In a May 31 press conference, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced he is signing an executive order giving Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers the ability to arrest any individual on the street between 8 p.m. Sunday night and 6 a.m. Monday morning. The only exceptions are those traveling to and from work and emergency medical care.
The curfew comes after two nights of protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd. Floyd, 46, who was murdered by police in Minneapolis last week. Protesters met at Monument Circle at 4:30 p.m. May 30. The tone changed around 9 p.m. after IMPD deployed the first round of pepper balls on the crowd.
IMPD Deputy Chief Joshua Barker defended the actions during the press conference, saying police responded to what he described as rioters near the Market Street entrance of the city-county building. After several people began kicking in windows of buildings and covering their faces with protective gear — in what appeared to be preparation for altercations with police — Barker said officers deployed the pepper balls. According to Barker, protesters arrived at Market Street several minutes before IMPD officers did.
However, many protesters claim IMPD were already on Market Street when they arrived, which prompted them to put on eye protection and bring out gallons of milk, which helps take the sting out of pepper spray. After the official protest ended at 7 p.m., officers were stationed at nearly every corner of downtown Indianapolis to control traffic.
By midnight, there were several reports of shots being fired. Two people were killed last night, and several injured, including one IMPD officer. IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said in the press conference that none of the shootings were IMPD-related.
“For two days I’ve listened to peaceful protesters advocating change,” Taylor said. “As an African American man, I share many of their frustrations and agree with much of what they’re advocating for. But nothing about the riots helps the cause of protesters. I specifically don’t believe three’s a single thing about young people shooting each other in our downtown streets that advances the cause of justice. My prayer is for peace in this city. For the residents of this city that I love, take this into account before senseless violence takes another life.”
Both Hogsett and Taylor commended the peaceful protesters, who demonstrated on Monument Circle, the World War Memorial, and throughout downtown last night. It is not currently known how many of the 29 people arrested in last night’s events were from out of town, but Taylor said he would not be surprised if individuals from outside the city were in attendance to disrupt the protest.
“I know that there were people in the crowd not from the Indianapolis area,” Taylor said. “I would not be surprised if Antifa (an anti-fascist movement) was there.”
Along with protesters advocating for justice for Black victims of police brutality, white agitators were in attendance, and were responsible for many cases of looting and destruction of private property.
“These actions are necessary, but they break my heart,” Hogsett said of the executive order. “They break my heart because I know by taking these necessary steps, we are perpetuating a narrative that places the violent acts of last night on a pedestal. … Looting, rioting and violence against others, that is not who we are as a city. It has never been who we are as a city.”
Hogsett said any extension of the executive order will be determined on a day-to-day basis, if protests should continue into this week.
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.