INDIANAPOLIS — As more Indianapolis leaders and groups denounce the message spread during a march by Patriot Front over the weekend, questions are being raised about if the protest was allowed by the city.
Around 75 members of Patriot Front marched from the grounds of the Statehouse to Monument Circle, then to the American Legion Mall and stopped near the main branch of the Indianapolis Public Library.
Researchers call the group white nationalist and fascist based on their message and manifesto on the Patriot Front website.
The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police released a statement Tuesday about the march that happened in downtown Indianapolis, at the same time as Indy Laborfest welcomed working families celebrating the holiday weekend.
“First and foremost: groups that espouse ‘hate’ do not represent our Capital City and are contrary to every tenant of Hoosier Hospitality,” the FOP release stated. “While our local politicians in charge were quick to echo such sentiments, we call upon them take additional steps to inform our public on the facts surrounding this public display.”
The FOP statement went on to say that while recognizing the “Constitutional Right to free speech and to peaceably assemble, even if it is speech we do not like,” there were still steps to follow for lawful assemblies.
“Therefore, we call upon our Indianapolis Mayor to publicly report if this was a legal assembly that filed for a right-of-way permit to march in the streets of Indianapolis, obstructing traffic, and blocking roadways in our Capital City,” the FOP requested. “We also call upon the Governor of Indiana to outline the same and whether any such permitted protest occurred on State property, if it was lawful and if it was known beforehand.”
During a joint news conference today about license plate readers between the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Mayor Joe Hogsett, FOX59 asked if the city knew about the march before it took place.
“Well, we didn’t. The fact that a group appeared without any forewarning or forenotice, I can assure you no advanced notice was given that this march was going to take place,” said Mayor Hogsett.
The mayor went on to reiterate the words he had used in a statement that was released Sunday about the march that happened downtown on Saturday.
“What this group reported to represent is really nothing more than hate and hate has no place in Indianapolis. This group does not represent the values that we share as a community,” Hogsett said. “And I want to make sure that the public understands, we condemn their message in the strongest terms possible.”
While State Capitol Police observed the march Saturday, the group’s procession was apparently legal and non-violent.
The governor’s office said any permission given for the march would not involved them.
The city of Indianapolis also released this statement in regards to providing a permit for the march.
“Although the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services issues permits for special events, the city does not issue permits for demonstrations that are in the public right-of-way. No advanced outreach was made by the group in question, either to coordinate logistics or communicate their plans,” city officials responded.
IMPD determined the group was merely passing through Indianapolis and has found no evidence of a significant permanent presence locally.
“No arrests or cases have been presented to our office,” the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office reported on Tuesday. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and join local leaders in condemning messages of hate in our community.”
The group’s website listed Indiana as one of its top three activity states earlier this summer after Patriot Front stickers and posters were found on the IU-Fort Wayne campus last winter.
Mayor Hogsett provided a message to groups like Patriot Front, who may consider the city for future demonstrations.
“You are unwelcome in Indianapolis if your message is going to be purely about division, disunity and hate for one another. And I speak not just for Indianapolis, I think I speak for the country as a whole,” Hogsett said.