Internet rumors lead to protest no-show at Indiana Statehouse

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File photo of the Indiana Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS — While the FBI sent out warnings that all 50 statehouses across America could be the sites of protests Sunday, the only demonstrator at the seat of state government in downtown Indianapolis was a lone libertarian who said his name was “Duncan Lemp.”

He was carrying two signs, one calling out the government’s war on drugs and the other listing the names of persons fatally wounded in police action shootings.

The protester, who identified himself several hours later as Joseph Bortka, said that while he didn’t plan the protest, it was his intention to join with other “Sons of Liberty.”

“As you can see, I may have estimated wrong. I expected a low turnout in Indianapolis today. I wasn’t sure if I would be the only one or if there would be very many people.”

The only significant group within sight of the Statehouse grounds was a small crowd waiting for tables at Café Patachou across West Washington Street.

The only pedestrians jockeying for ample sidewalk space along the bagged meter parking spots were pint-sized cheerleaders and their mothers in town for a national cheerleading convention.

After 20 minutes, more than a dozen law enforcement vehicles on watch disappeared, dispersed to other more pressing policing duties.

State and local law enforcement sources told FOX59 they didn’t expect a significant showing, citing internet rumors that police were operating a sting operation to gather intelligence on leaders of the protest movement. 

“The rally was actually planned back in November by a group of libertarians to be standing up against government overreach,” said Bortka who adopted the name of a slain boogaloo bois martyr killed by police in Maryland last year. “And then in the last week or so with what happened in D.C., the Stop the Steal protesters, they saw our ads and thought, ‘Oh, man, this is a big government sting.’

“That’s the buzz on the internet anyway.”

So the man who claimed he was “Duncan Lemp” stood his lonely post as a light snow fell, his unzipped jacket displaying a tropical style shirt favored by the boogaloo bois, carrying his licensed concealed weapon, breathing free the chilly mid-day air without benefit of a mask to curb spread of the coronavirus.

“I think it’s important for people to express, to demonstrate their rights in order that they not be taken away. Use it or lose it,” he said. “Demonstrating with a firearm is a way of reminding the government where their power is derived from.”

The protester said he has no idea if a planned protest for Inauguration Day will draw a bigger crowd to the Statehouse, but the lone Libertarian said he won’t be there.

He said he’s got other things to do that day.

More than hour after police and media departed the Statehouse non-protest, Bortka continued to man his lonely post, carrying a sign listing the names of people killed by police officers.

One of those names was “Duncan Lemp.”

NOTE: CBS4 originally quoted Bortka as saying “I had planned this protest and, as you can see, I may have estimated wrong.” Bortka, who previous went only by “Duncan Lemp,” later contacted CBS4 and said he meant to say he planned to attend the protest, but he was not the one who planned it.

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