INDIANAPOLIS– Last spring, Indianapolis learned that a social injustice tragedy far away could still have a devastating impact in central Indiana as riots after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis resulted in two murders and more than $8 million in property losses and costs here.
Now, as Indy and world await word on the verdict in the trial of the former police officer accused of killing Floyd nearly 600 miles away, IMPD and downtown business owners say they are better prepared this year in case civil unrest turns violent.
“We at this point are monitoring some social media sites, there are some pop up maybe protests that occur not just this week but also occurred last week and we do monitor them,” said IMPD Major Charles Deblaso of the Special Operations Unit, “but as of right now we have no preliminary information of any kind of large scale protest or any unlawful assembly that is going to take place in the city.”
FOX59 reached out to various community members associated with last year’s protest movement and did not receive word of any planned demonstrations at this time.
“We continue to monitor the events across the nation within reference to the trial and a verdict coming out,” said Deblaso. “We are also reaching out to our community leaders and we are in contact with them, so, we are getting all our information and planning and assessing and we will continue to reassess what we hear.”
In the wake of last year’s protests and riots, IMPD reached a lawsuit settlement with BLM Indy Ten that led to an agreement to modify the use of tear gas and modify use of force when responding to peaceful protesters.
“We are constantly looking at training in every aspect of this department and we are constantly looking to provide better training for our officers,” said Deblaso. “We do have an agreement with the ACLU, we intend to honor that agreement. We hope that it doesn’t come to anything that we would need to do in reference to that agreement but we’ll have to assess that and make that determination at that point.”
Greg Bires of Windsor Jewelry said he will simply write off 2020 as a lost year for his business, hit with the twin disasters of the pandemic economic shutdown of downtown and the damage rioters did to his store on South Meridian Street off Monument Circle.
“From what IMPD has been telling us throughout the last year, they are better prepared for any issues that could come up for any reason and I’m hoping that we don’t ever have to put those to practice but it’s good to know that they’re a little more alert and paying more attention to any issues that might come up and deal with them proactively.”
Bires said he saved and numbered the plywood that covered his windows after vandals ransacked his store during the first night of rioting last May.
“A lot of people have things in place that hopefully we never need to use them again but now we’re more in tune with what we have to do to prepare for something like this,” he said. “Hopefully though we’ll have enough advanced warning or notice that we can get things in place to protect our property.”