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Broad Ripple: Concerns over business ads turn into conversation about race relations

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By Nicole Pence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 22, 2014) -- FOX59 followed up on a story we ran Monday on NewsPoint at Eleven about obscene advertisements promoting clubs in Broad Ripple.

The story spurred a big reaction on social media, showing there is much more to this conversation than just advertisements.

"I thought I was going to have a nice quiet day, but all kind of stuff is going on," said Amos Brown.

The talks show host led his show Tuesday on AM 1310 with a story from NewsPoint Monday about public safety leaders not happy about "racy" advertisements in Broad Ripple.

"Over the years there has been this perception, this reality, that the African American community doesn't feel welcome in Broad Ripple. And the people who run Broad Ripple have not seen fit to come to our community and say 'welcome!' It kinda hit a nerve last night on a brand-new newscast," said Brown on his radio show.

Since seven people were shot July 4 weekend on the strip, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Public Safety have been watching social media advertisements in Broad Ripple more closely. Chief Rick Hite talked to FOX59 after the violence in Broad Ripple.

"We have a wholesome community where between the hours of nine in the morning and nine in the evening, we have family-orientated events, etc. But at ten o'clock it changes. It turns more into adult somewhat entertainment where we have bars and restaurants catering to a population," said Hite in an interview with FOX59 on July 5.

FOX59 aired some of the advertisements public safety leaders are questioning on a story on NewsPoint at 11PM Monday.

The photos picked out by public safety leaders started a heated and emotional conversation that many say has been going on in Indianapolis for a while.

"No disrespect to you (Nicole Pence), the video, editor and photographer, but it did strike a nerve. There is a problem with race relations in our city and county on a number of levels. It's not just a Broad Ripple issue," Brown told FOX59.

FOX59's story about lewd advertising turned in to a discussion about race relations. Below are some of the comments from callers on Brown's talk show Tuesday.

"Broad Ripple itself. They don`t want black people up there really, man. I used to go there a lot," said an anonymous caller.

"We've been doing stop the violence charity events for the last two weeks," said G. Spears.

"I haven`t personally experienced mistreatment in Broad Ripple, but I have witnessed it," said another anonymous caller.

"What happened Monday night on social media is a reaction to media, in a broad sense, that does not want young African Americans out drinking there," Brown said. "At the same time, Broad Ripple has never said to our community that we are welcome. They've never come to my institution and welcomed a dialogue.  We need to have more dialogue and conversation rather than sit in silos and throw stones at each other."

Marc Williams was one of many people who reached out to FOX59 on Twitter after Monday's story on NewsPoint about the lewd advertisements.

FOX59 showed Williams one of the photos flagged by public safety leaders as "racy." FOX59 couldn't show the photo on television.

"Oh, that is interesting. Oh, OK," said Williams.

We asked Williams to define "interesting."

"I don't know what else that could be (other) than a description of... it's unnecessary," he said.

Williams thinks the focus is not on advertisements. He believes the conversation is about community relations in Broad Ripple.

"To me, it`s about the bigger picture which is that certain people are not welcome in Broad Ripple or feel that they are not welcome in Broad Ripple. I am glad you at least did the story because it generated the conversation that we need to have. If we are uncomfortable about the stories, then that is our call to do something different," said Williams.

IMPD declined to comment on camera to FOX59. The department released a statement in response to the story:

"The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is committed to ensuring public safety for all our citizens and to reducing violence, not only in the Broad Ripple Village but in all Indy neighborhoods. IMPD will continue to work with business owners and the community to find long-term solutions to the issues that lead to violence and criminal activity. Our sustained effort will take cooperation from everyone as we work together to reduce crime, the fear or crime, and to improve the quality of life in our city."

The Broad Ripple Village Association is hosting a public forum to talk about safety Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Northminster Presbyterian Church. The group's president told FOX59 they have not directly invited African American community leaders to those discussions.

"We leave that up to IMPD," said President Justin McKeand.

The DJ and promoter connected to some of the advertisements public safety leaders flagged as "racy" were fired from nightclubs Monday.

FOX59 talked with nightclub owners at NYX and LandSharks Tuesday to get more details as to why the two were let go.

"I have always welcomed the African American community," said Mike Stancombe, general manager of NYX.

Stancombe does not believe the advertisements described as "racy" by public safety leaders were inappropriate.

"There wasn't an ad with guns hanging out or in the air. That has nothing to do with the advertising. It is called grasping. What does it have to do with? Let's address the real problem."

Stancombe said he fired the DJ and promoter Monday morning, more than 12 hours before the FOX59 story aired on NewsPoint. FOX59 began working on the story that afternoon.

"(We cut ties) yesterday (Monday) morning. I don't like what Broad Ripple is becoming. I think we can fix it, if someone can fix it and do it the right way. The city needs to get behind the businesses," he said.

FOX59 asked Stancombe why he cut ties with the DJ and promoter if he didn't have a problem with the advertisement.

"It's called pressure," he said. "I am getting pressure. My father got pressure, and we had to make a business decision and that's that."

He continued, "We received pressure, and I had to do what I had to do to protect our investment. It was a very hard and sad decision to make, trust me. I felt it was not fair. I cannot have the pressure. I cannot have people standing on us like this."

LandSharks owner Mark Casey told FOX59 he also fired the DJ and promoter before the story aired on FOX59.

FOX59 asked Casey Monday about the photos public safety leaders flagged as "racy." Casey told FOX59 he wasn't aware of the advertisements until Monday afternoon and fired the DJ and promoter because the ads promoted "sex, violence and drugs."

FOX59 spoke to the DJ for comment. The DJ declined to go on camera for an interview.