INDIANAPOLIS– A staff member of the City County Council told Fox 59 News on Wednesday that, “several councilors say they will never talk to Fox 59 News again,” because of our attempts to seek comments and interviews on recent violence in Indianapolis and proposed solutions funded by district-specific grants.
The statement came as several councilors, for the second day in a row, refused to respond to requests for interviews regarding gun violence in their districts and how they are prioritizing the award of $625,000 in district anti-crime grants this year.
Councilor Ethan Evans, a northeast side Democrat, was unavailable for an interview Tuesday due to a religious observance and, in lieu of an on-camera interview Wednesday, issued the following statement after Lake Castleton Apartments near 75th Street and Shadeland Avenue recorded a third homicide in five months this past weekend:
“I can say that I am deeply troubled and saddened by the recent homicides in our area and my thoughts are with the families of the victims. We need to make sure people are getting the resources they need and help the community in bolstering crime prevention and intervention efforts. The OPHS (Office of Public Health & Safety) will be sending representatives to work with local volunteers in the two apartment complexes on September 15. The North Shadeland Alliance will be organizing a volunteer effort as well.
They were the recipients of the first round of crime prevention grants, from district 3 and 4, and have put the funds toward the police substation, as well as a feasibility study for a community center opening at the former Marsh location.”Councilor Ethan Evans
One of the most recent homicides, happened Tuesday night in the 1700 block of East 52nd Street in Councilor Duke Oliver’s district.
On Tuesday, Oliver was one of a handful of councilors who did respond to a request for comment, indicating he had a “confidential plan” to deal with violence that he was not yet prepared to release.
Council Vice President Zach Adamson, whose near eastside district was home to a quadruple homicide last winter and the murder of a teenager Monday, while not available to appear on-camera in time to be interviewed for Tuesday’s story, did indicate that he supports additional public safety and anti-violence spending to not only empower community groups in the fight against crime but also pay for the hiring and training of more IMPD officers.
Council President Vop Osili and Public Safety Committee Chairman Leroy Robinson issued a joint statement Tuesday after requests for on-camera interviews were ignored. In the statement, Osili and Robinson wrote, in part:
“There are no easy answers, and no immediate solutions. While law enforcement and the justice system are crucial elements in the fight against violence, we cannot arrest, prosecute, or incarcerate our way out of this problem. That is precisely why the City is investing in violence prevention at the grassroots level through its District Crime Prevention Grants program, along with other neighborhood-based, equity-driven initiatives to support people of every race and in every place in Indianapolis as we work together to address the root causes of this violence and crime. Even the most difficult days will not deter us in this fight.”
Fox 59 News reached out only to councilors of districts that have seen the most violent of crimes in the last week.
Republican Councilor Michael-Paul Hart, the only councilor to consent to an on-camera interview, who represents a district where a killing occurred Monday night, said, “Government isn’t gonna solve any problems here. We have to look at our communities to start solving problems.”
The Council staff member expressed a preference for any media inquiries to come through that office and not directly to councilors who often publish their email addresses and personal cell phone numbers on the Indy.gov website.
The Council staff member indicated that Fox 59 News, by following this line of inquiry and reporting, was seeking to, “make yourself the story.”
Viewers and citizens of Indianapolis have indicated to Fox 59 News that they demand more accountability from their elected officials in the community’s fight against violence and have requested that Fox 59 News continue to press this issue with authorities.