GIPC forms working group to provide legal services, make policing recommendations

The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee on Thursday announced the creation of a working group to look at ways to tackle racism and bias in Indianapolis.

GIPC is a 55-year-old private, not-for-profit organization—self-described as non-partisan—that provides a forum in which public and private sector leaders work as partners to study, discuss and address issues of concern and areas of opportunity that affect the city’s progress.

Over the years, GIPC has worked on projects including the development of Eagle Creek Park, the creation of Unigov and construction of Interstate 465 and Eskanazi Health Hospital. The committee also established the Race and Cultural Relations Leadership Network in 1994.

Now, it’s turning its attention to systemic racism.

The race and legal process working Group will research and make recommendations on changing policing and police governance, and create a pro bono “surge” team of lawyers to address urgent issues facing black and other disadvantaged residents, such as evictions, stemming from pandemic-related economic hardship.

“The actions announced today arise out of GIPC’s deep concern about the unjust impact of policing practices and policies on black residents of Indianapolis, and the economic hardship experienced by disadvantaged black and other traditionally underrepresented minority communities because of COVID-19,” the committee said in a news release.

The working group, chaired by Karen Bravo, incoming dean of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, will be composed of two teams.

The structural reform team—co-chaired by John Gaidoo, assistant general counsel at Cummins Inc., and Joseph Smith, partner at Faegre Drinker Biddle and Reath—will collaborate to provide research, policy recommendations and education on best practices in policing, focused on treating black residents in Indianapolis equitably and with dignity.

The pro bono legal services team, chaired by Myra Selby, a former Indiana Supreme Court Justice and partner at Ice Miller, will create urgent surge capacity for pro bono legal services providers from the private sector legal community. The team will focus on issues that include the flood of housing evictions expected to occur when the state’s temporary moratorium related to COVID-19 is lifted.

The teams intend to conclude work before the end of the year.

“Racism and lack of opportunity must end in Indianapolis,” Mary Titsworth Chandler, chair of GIPC and vice president of corporate responsibility and community relations for Cummins, said in written comments. “Our city simply will not advance unless black residents are treated fairly, with dignity and access to opportunity.”

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