‘Problem we all need to confront’: ACLU, NAACP host racial justice talk in Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota have sparked outrage and conversation across the country, including a frank discussion hosted in Indianapolis Thursday night.

The ACLU of Indiana, in partnership with the NAACP, held a panel discussion and screening of the film Straight Outta Compton at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

While the event had been planned for some time, organizers believed more people attended and were concerned because of the publicized shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.

Castile’s girlfriend, who live streamed the aftermath of his shooting in a chilling Facebook video, is originally from Indianapolis.

“We see this over and over again and we’re just wondering what should we do,” attendee Linda Everett said.

Everett and hundreds of others listened as panelists discussed racial justice, policing, and the outrage over those recent shootings. The panel focused on both history and what’s happening now, as well as what people can do about it.

“The most recent deaths in the last 48 hours were the 122nd and 123rd black persons killed at the hands of law enforcement this year. … It’s really a problem that we all need to confront,” ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar said.

“Let this be tutorials for your children. Make them look at this, explain to them how this could’ve happened when it should not have happened at all,” panelist and former LAPD Officer Martin Whitfield said. “It can’t just be African-Americans standing up and raising their fists to the air, it has to be everyone.”

“We need to change this whole system that we’ve all been living under and just accepting,” panelist and IU law professor LaWanda Ward said.

Panelists encouraged attendees to keep talking and get involved in the community, saying the believed Indianapolis is no exception to what’s happening across the country.

“That’s where it starts, is in our communities, really being engaged and helping each other,” panelist Ariana Beedie said.