Mary Tuttle brought her daughter, Rose, to Cottage Home Community Park Sunday because they feel it’s time for allies to start taking action against racial injustice.
“As I’m learning more and more, it’s not just racist or not racist,” Tuttle said, “it’s racist or anti-racist.”
While Tuttle has been to several protests, the White Silence is Violence Allies Only March was 8-year-old Rose’s first. Tuttle said the hardest part of educating her daughter about racial injustice is telling her the truth in an age-appropriate way. She said it’s important for her daughter to understand, however, that she will experience things in a different way than her Black friends.
“It’s horrific,” Tuttle said. “(Rose) told me the other day that she was worried about the other protesters because they might have families that might need them, and she’s worried about them getting hurt. You know, as a mom, I wanted to be able to tell her nothing more than that’s an unfounded fear, but it’s not.”
After being postponed Saturday due to the weather, the Tuttles were among about 100 other participants in the event organized by the Indiana Racial Justice Alliance and Allies for Action.
The event began around 5 p.m. at the park before participants marched to the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police Lodge on 1427 E. Washington St. and back chanting phrases such as “Silence is violence, dismantle whiteness,” and “When we fight, we will win.”
This demonstration follows weeks of protests around the country calling for justice, equity and change after the killing of George Floyd and other Black individuals.
‘No justice, no sleep’
Earlier in the day, protesters continued their call for justice, transparency and change.
At around 5:00 a.m., cars gathered in the area of West 62nd Street and Michigan Road for the second “Wake Up For Black Lives” protest organized by Indy10 Black Lives Matter. The gathering spot is where Dreasjon “Sean” Reed was shot and killed by an IMPD officer on the night of May 6.
At 5:30 a.m., participants in cars decorated with signs and messages made their way northwest to a neighborhood off West 86th Street where Taylor lives. Chants of “no justice, no sleep” traveled along with the procession of vehicles.
Leah Deeray of Indy10 Black Lives Matter previously told IndyStar the idea for the early morning car demonstration came from a woman on Twitter who said protesters should drive through gentrified neighborhoods and get their attention.
In videos posted to Facebook and Twitter, demonstrators made their demands clear. They say they want Taylor to release the autopsy reports for Reed and McHale Rose, fire the officers responsible for their deaths and ensure that the officers are held accountable for murder.
Rose, 19, was killed during a reported burglary in progress at an apartment complex on Woodglen Drive at about 1:30 a.m. May 7. Rose was killed about seven and a half hours after Reed.
IndyStar has reached out to Indy10 and IMPD for comment.
Using privilege to create change
Before white speakers came forward to address the crowd, volunteers passed out fliers stating the Indiana Racial Justice Alliance (RJA) demands of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
The flier outlined four points: Defund IMPD to refund community programs and services, create a community-led external review board, move internal affairs under external review and require the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to have independent liability insurance.
“This is about allies thinking about how to take apart the system strategically this is not about throwing your body in front of somebody who is Black so you get the tear gas first,” said Mat Davis, co-chair of the Indiana said. “It’s more useful if you throw your social capitol, your political capitol, your financial capitol in front of a Black person, in front of a brown person.”
Speakers ranging shared their experiences with racism — from elected officials such as State Senator JD Ford and City-County Councilor Ali Brown to community leaders like Mary Dicken, a pastor at Meridian Street United Methodist Church.
“I stand before you today very mindful of who I am and what I represent,” Dicken said to attendees. “The (United Methodist) church is the place where I learned all about injustice and oppression. It was the church that told me from my earliest days that God must be white, male and hetero-normative for all the images I saw around our building and in our picture Bibles told me so.”
Dickens went on to say the church told her Jesus loves “little children of all colors,” but then “offered a correction telling me we were actually supposed to be colorblind.”
Ford said when he addressed the crowd that an individual stating they “do not see color” or make similar statements, they are part of the problem and miss the point of Black Lives Matter.
“When I go into stores, I’m not followed around the store. I can run through my neighborhood and feel 100% safe,” Ford said. “Unfortunately, even here in 2020, our Black and brown neighbors do not have the privilege of experiencing what I just described, and we are all inherently racist.”
Understanding the presence and harm of racial injustice
The group then marched to the FOP lodge on Washington Street where they discussed the impact of the organization.
“(The FOP) is why it’s hard to fire cops, this is why it’s hard to hold them accountable,” Davis said. “Mind you, I support the labor movement, but this is not indicative of the labor movement.”
Davis continued to speak in front of the lodge as cars passed behind the demonstrators. While some honked, one rolled down his window to suggest protesters move to the open parking lot behind the FOP lodge.
Eventually, police cars showed up to block off parts of Washington Street around the demonstrators until the crowd began their march back to the park.
Before attendees dispersed, Davis addressed the crowd one last time to remind the crowd of a boycott of the 4th of July specifically for white people to show awareness for the” genocide of native people in this country.”
Dante Fratturo from Allies for Action said it’s important for white people to gather in support of anti-racism to continue to educate others on how they can stand against racism and “use their power and their privilege in the right way.”
Davis echoed Fratturo’s statement and said the turnout at the protest was amazing, but it was more about who participated. Because people brought their children, he said, they will now be able to grow up understanding the presence and harm of racial injustice.
“White people have a special and unique role in fighting for racial justice because they have created, benefit and because of those two things ultimately maintain racist practices and institutions,” Davis said. “It’s important that they do the work of anti-racism together to normalize the conversation amongst white people so it’s an easier conversation to have amongst the people who are benefiting, maintaining and creating the institutions that we are either liberated or oppressed by.”
IndyStar reporter Justin Mack contributed to this story.
Contact IndyStar Pulliam Fellow Brooke Kemp at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @brookemkemp.