Downtown business owners calling for more accountability, better response after an independent review faults IMPD for last May’s protests

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INDIANAPOLIS — An independent review panel appointed by Mayor Joe Hogsett to review IMPD’s response to last May’s riots downtown blames the department for escalating tensions among protestors.

The three-member commission faulted IMPD for a lack of preparation, coordination, communication, and training for the protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis and the fatal officer-involved shooting of Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis.

“Caught off guard from what? That’s what we do. We secure the safety of our citizens,” said co-owner Giorgio’s Pizza, George Stergiopoulos.

Stergiopoulos classified himself as “one of the lucky ones” considering his business only sustained a couple thousand dollars’ worth of damage following the violence. He recounts one individual attempting to break his shop’s window by throwing a scooter through the glass.

“We were here at 10:30pm and then we had to make a run for it,” Stergiopoulos said. “It was pretty intense.”

Downtown Indy Inc. estimates a total of 112 downtown businesses and building were damaged by either riots, fires, or looting. It estimates the total cost of damage to be somewhere in the $7 million range.

“It was horrible because we weren’t prepared for it,” said Greg Bires, owner of Windsor Jewelry – another business targeted by looters. “They did mass destruction.”

Bires described thieves breaking the glass storefront before going inside his business to break every showcasing causing a few hundred thousand dollars in damage.

“And then they went into every office and turned everything upside down,” said Bires. “Just ruined everything that they could ruin.”

After weeks of clean up and declining foot traffic following the protests, some downtown businesses are just now re-opening. However, both Bires and Stergiopoulos still want more accountability than the report provides.

“If the mayor made request to the governor about bringing the National Guard in, I think that that would’ve probably saved the day,” said Stergiopoulos. “I think if the streets weren’t given up, I don’t think we would’ve gotten to that position.”

“It’s my understanding that IMPD was here and ready to help and the administration asked them to stand down,” said Bires. “That was the reason that we had no one responded to our alarms.”

The commission found there was insufficient anticipation by IMPD that the potential for violence associated with anti-police protests was present in Indianapolis despite nationwide demonstrations in the weeks before regarding the Floyd killing.

The report also faults IMPD for not being able to better differentiate between peaceful protesters and the “opportunists” mixed within the crowds who sought to commit mayhem under the cover of the downtown demonstrations.

To read the full report, click here.

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