INDIANAPOLIS — In an exclusive interview with FOX59 News, Mayor Joe Hogsett was asked for his analysis of the performance of IMPD officers in quelling two nights of riots following peaceful social justice rallies that left downtown Indianapolis in ruins.
“I know they have been taxed literally to fatigue and exhaustion because of the hours that they have been working and I hope to visit with some of the members of our Emergency Response Group unit later this afternoon,” said the mayor during an interview on Richard Lugar Plaza outside of the City County Building.
“But I think for the most part there were moments of chaos which in no small measure are predictable if you have smaller groups of people moving very quickly around the city and a limited number of law enforcement officials who are not only trying to keep the larger protests peaceful, but then trying to observe what these smaller groups are doing. But other than a few moments when things did get a bit chaotic I think for the most part they’ve done their best at keeping the peace.”
IMPD recorded at least one hundred Use of Force incidents over four days from the simple handcuffing of arrestees to the deployment of pepper balls to break up crowds.
“I really have no context in which I would be able to make a judgment as to whether a hundred is where we ought to be in terms of the numbers of Use of Force incidents,” said Hogsett a day after he directed IMPD Chief Randy Taylor to review the actions of officers amid complaints of protestors.
“We marched down that street on Saturday and they cut us off and immediately gassed us with no warning,” said Malik Muhammad who marched on the Governor’s Residence Monday night.“They maced a disabled kid while he was on his knees. It was disgusting.”
Taylor apologized to anyone who inadvertently suffered the effects of tear gas over the weekend.
Deputy Chief Josh Barker said while the mayor’s call for internal reviews of IMPD actions would not change the tactics of officers, he would remind the men and women under his command to be judicious in their use of force.
Hogsett said that social media and other videos brought to his attention resulted in the directive for an IMPD internal review.
“I think there are aspects of some of the videos that I saw that are concerning and disturbing. But I can’t make judgments on the basis of that.”
On Saturday the mayor blamed “few” of those in the protest crowd for causing the widespread damages during the first night of rioting to shops, restaurants and Circle Centre Mall.
His characterization of “moments of chaos” on Saturday night alone went on for five hours and resulted in two downtown murders.
The widespread unrest was finally quelled Sunday evening with the first of three overnight curfews and the deployment of Indiana National Guard troops and Indiana State troopers to protect state property downtown.
The mayor said he considered calling a curfew for Saturday night, but was “hopeful” that rally leaders could convince protestors to leave downtown by seven p.m.
Many did. Many did not. More arrived as darkness fell.
“I think I would want the people of Indianapolis to understand that first and foremost we have an obligation to do everything we can to protect all residents of the city of Indianapolis including peaceful protestors,” said Hogsett, the day after an IMPD officer defused a tense confrontation between protestors and state troopers outside the Governor’s Residence on North Meridian Street. “I want to thank both those peaceful protestors and the law enforcement officials who are dedicated to protecting and serving us for making what would have otherwise been a very difficult situation, perhaps even a violent confrontation, one of really peace and harmony and brotherhood.”
One of the mayor’s and IMPD’s foremost public supporters was not happy with what he perceived to be Hogsett’s less-than-enthusiastic support and appreciation of the job police officers did in restoring order to the city.
“I think it looks like a warzone,” said Dr. Chris Holland of The Father’s House as he surveyed downtown Indianapolis. “I think the questions that any intelligent citizen would ask is if you can call for a curfew on Sunday why couldn’t you call for a curfew on Saturday?
“If I were a business owner downtown, if I were a citizen that lived downtown, I would be majorly asking some questions about whose final decision is it? I know we can pass the buck so to speak and push it down, but should you push it down to the men and women who were putting their life on the line?”
Dr. Holland and his church and volunteers have distributed thousands of medical triage kits to public safety officers throughout the metro area so that they may treat accident and violence victims who might not live long enough for an ambulance to arrive.
“I love Mayor Hogsett. I’ve walked these streets with Mayor Hogsett,” said the pastor. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, ‘I’m the leader, I’m leading public safety,’ and yet disappear in one of the most I mean violent moments of our city’s history.”
Hogsett repeated the account of a woman who was committing vandalism but whose life was saved by an officer during the first night of rioting.
“The one story that was reported, and I think speaks volumes about the efforts that IMPD are making, is there was an instance where an individual, who apparently was kicking in a window, severely severed, the result of a shard of glass, severely severed parts of her leg so badly that had a police officer not been present to immediately implemented a tourniquet and the doctor in the ER room said that saved her life.”
That tourniquet was possibly supplied with the triage kit donated by Dr. Holland’s church and supporters.