Hogsett planning afternoon press conference after night of violence, vandalism downtown

Keywords Downtown / Law
Monument Circle on Saturday morning. (IBJ photo/Lesley Weidenbener)

Indianapolis officials are bracing for more unrest this weekend after a largely peaceful protest on Friday downtown turned violent at night and early into Saturday morning with widespread vandalism to buildings.

Mayor Joe Hogsett is planning a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to discuss the protests and the city’s response going forward. Another protest is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Indiana War Memorial.

Overnight, protesters clashed with police and busted windows on Monument Circle and across the Mile Square. Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department used tear gas to try to break up pockets of protesters. Three law enforcement officers and at least one protester were injured, according to a statement from Hogsett.

After an organized protest ended peacefully on Friday night, some protesters remained downtown and vandalized buildings and monuments.

At one point Friday night, Indianapolis police stood in riot gear as groups of protesters moved through clouds of tear gas chanting “I can’t breathe!” and “Black lives matter.”

“I am saddened that so many people and businesses were injured in the violence that ensued. While the emotions that fueled this vandalism may be justified, the actions that were taken and the harm that it has caused are simply unacceptable and did nothing to further the cause of progress,” Hogsett said.

“Our office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department remain committed to ensuring the safety of peaceful protesters, and I would ask all who speak out in the days that follow to reject the tactics of those who would diminish a movement toward national action into unproductive destruction,” Hogsett said.

The unrest was mirrored in cities across the country on Friday as anger over the death on May 25 of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis erupted into large-scale demonstrations about police violence. The unrest spread from Minneapolis to Atlanta, New York, Houston and Washington, D.C., where the White House was placed under lockdown. In Portland, Oregon, police declared a riot. In Lincoln, Nebraska, police urged residents to shelter in place.

Windows for a FedEx storefront were smashed on Monument Circle. Click for more photos. (IBJ photo/Lesley Weidenbener)

In Indianapolis, protesters spray-painted “Black Lives Matter” and other phrases on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Dozens of windows were smashed in buildings nearby, although Christ Church Cathedral on Monument Circle was unharmed.

Contractor Marvin Hasty was working on a broken window at Sugarfire Smoke House at 24 W. Washington St. He said he was swamped with calls for making repairs downtown, on 38th Street and on the east side of the city.

“This is the mayor’s fault,” he said. “He had to know this was coming, and he was unprepared.”

Three workers with the not-for-profit group Downtown Indy Inc. helped clean up damage downtown on Saturday morning. Sherry Seiwert, president of Downtown Indy, said there were no estimates yet of the value of the damage.

“What took place last night did remarkable and senseless damage to businesses and residential properties that will take millions to rebuild and restore. What is most devastating is that the businesses targeted with destruction and looting are the very businesses seeking to lift up racial inequities by employing men and women of all races and minorities – but will now be closed for weeks, months and perhaps forever,” Seiwert said in a statement to IBJ.

Workers repair damage to windows at 125 W. Market St. (IBJ photo/Lesley Weidenbener)

“Downtown Indy Inc. calls on all business and community leaders of all races to call for an end to illegal and dangerous behaviors that have riddled our urban core. We also call upon these same leaders to seek first to understand the pent-up anger existing in minority communities and speak out against injustice and inequality. Peaceful protests are acceptable and welcome, but not when they lead to destruction of property and violence towards fellow humans.”

Kyle Maddox and his 10-year-old daughter walked on Meridian Street just south of Monument Circle on Saturday morning with a broom and cardboard signs saying “Black Lives Matter.” Kyle said they wanted to both help clean up the mess and show support for the protestors.

“The protests have validity. There’s a good reason to do it. And if things get out of control we can come together as a community.

“I hope that there is a peaceful resolution, that the folks felt heard and that we can make effective change as a community.”

Across the street at Windsor Jewelry, owner Greg Bires was working with contractors and staff to clean up the mess left when protestors broke through his windows and ransacked the store. Most of the jewelry was locked up for the night, but he said thieves made off with what they could after smashing through cases and tearing through offices. He said he’s still determining what was stolen and how much damage was done.

Bires said he received an alarm about 1 a.m. and then motion detector alarms continued until about 3 a.m. “There’s no words for what happened here last night,” he said.

He said he felt for protestors who had a message that needed to be heard. But he said those those that vandalized stores tainted that message.

And he’s worried about what could happen on Saturday night. “We’re doing everything we can to secure the front of the store. We’re hoping that will work. Plus we’ll have security in the store.”

Hogsett tweeted Saturday morning that people hoping to help with the cleanup should stay away from downtown and let crews with the Department of Public Works handle the damage.

Chris Gibson, co-owner of a restored historic office building at 125 W. Market St. that suffered cosmetic damage overnight, said that he sympathized with the protesters.

“From a purely personal standpoint, I understand the frustration of why the protests are happening around the country, but I’m not sure damaging property is the right way to go about it,” he said.

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12 thoughts on “Hogsett planning afternoon press conference after night of violence, vandalism downtown

  1. There was less damage to Indianapolis in 1968 than last night. And the Mayor’s pathetic response to violence is a disgrace. The weakness on display at his orders to police to ALLOW criminals to rampage over dozens of city blocks is unconscionable. Letting vandals careen thru downtown unchecked shows the kind of weakness that invites violence. And worse, he puts his weakness of mind on full display with rhetoric that practically endorses the rampage. NO SIR, you are wrong. There is NO “emotion that fuels vandalism” in a civilized society that is “JUSTIFIED”! Outrageous disgrace.

    1. Agreed! This is not justified emotion! One guy gets killed 800 miles away, and here and in other US cities, an immature and ill-informed population riots? Really!!?
      Where’s a similar outrage of the 100’s and 100’s of black citizens killed on a nightly basis in all major US cities, mostly all by other young black males? Why isn’t the black community outraged about that? Martin Luther King would be ashamed!!

    2. KEVIN P. – MLK would be pleased. MLK would be protesting this criminal justice system.

  2. Enough is enough!

    These same clans and herds of animal thugs have denied and shunned education, humanity, and all things common and descent to civil society! They have no concept of peaceful dialogue within our Constitutional system and Republic to want to achieve and create equality for all.

    I want my police all the way up to the National Guard and Armed Forces as expected to protect our people and community from these indoctrinated Socialist Marxist Communist Democrat Anarchist Globalist inspired minions and Domestic Terrorist!!!

    The nice guy statesman political correctness will let us fall victim and die!!!

    When will our elected leaders get it that our country is under siege by hostile militant combatants (domestic terrorism) seeking to divide and destroy our Constitutional Republic???!!!

    1. Spot on Darrell, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to make the hard choices. Holcombe should have already activated the national guard. Hogsett is a joke.

  3. Lots of white folks running around smashing things up. That seems odd. Funny how the police never seem to put those folks in death-choke-holds–just the black people get that “special” treatment. There is a simple solution to this problem. Stop killing black citizens and you won’t have all this drama.

    Police officers who kill black citizens need to be charged AND convicted. No deals or light sentences–they must do hard time or receive a life sentence OR the death penalty. Treat these officers who kill black citizens just like you currently treat black people–harshly. Black people get no consideration or grace when it comes to the police or criminal justice system–treat these bad cops just like the criminal justice system treats black people.

    Democratic politicians need to remember, If black folks don’t vote for them–they have no political power. GOP voters are so lucky, their politicians will do any and everything to make them happy. So unless Democrats in Indy (and Nationally) step up, and start VALUING the BLACK VOTERS–they WON’T get the black vote come November. Trump will win, and frankly, Black folks can do another four years at this point. Black American’s have had to deal with far worse (chattel slavery) in this country. Democrats need to fix this mess. Do better–do your damn job–or you’ll be out of one.

    1. I thought the same thing. I see more whites than blacks. Some so fatthey can’t even run but waddle away.

    2. I don’t understand why African Americans don’t form their own political party? Both Republicans and Democrats would be trying to work with them. Seems to work in Europe with their multiple party system

    3. Rhea. P – We shouldn’t have to. We were the first people IN this country to DIE for freedom. Ever heard of a guy named Crispus Attacks? Multiple party systems don’t work in America because they make sense. The majority of Americans can’t understand why black people are upset—so a multiple party system, that is conceptual beyond mainstream America, lol.

  4. Love you John & Rhea. We should leave the additions to the memorial and add the words “here in Indy” under it Send Trump to the Hague, He’s killed enough people. He should of let us kneel. His poop hogties .Hogsett, Holcomb & everybody around the globe. Trump is not only the worst president in world history, he is the worst human being on earth today.

    It would be easy to run the country and repair the economy / quality of life… without that petulant child in the way. We already have the power and rights to run the country even before Crispus Attucks but only without violence. Colin Kaepernick for President! Lebron for VP!

  5. The answer to this problem is simple. All American mayors need to draft a work agreement that strips police officers of their qualified immunity and have them agree not to use deadly force unless threatened. And if they do kill, and deemed that they were not threatened—they will be immediately fired and charged accordingly. Have all police officers sign the document or be FIRED—and join the 40 million+ unemployed. All big-city American mayors CAN do this NOW. That would make people stop rioting and be lasting change so that this situation never happens again. The transparent use of a simple work agreement is the solution to police brutality in America.

    1. I LOVE YOUR IDEA. I wish we had a pollical system that could do it right away. But knowing our political system. It would take years of committees and studies and approvals to get it implemented. Which is why I stay out of politics. I don’t feel like I am heard. I don’t do brown nosing and am way too honest.

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