Nate Feltman: Crimes against innocent people, property cannot be tolerated

I am just back from a tour of a war zone I thought incomprehensible—our downtown.

Unless you see the damage with your own eyes and walk around and see the devastation, it is difficult to comprehend. Devastation and destruction everywhere.

We all were horrified to see the murder by a Minneapolis police officer of George Floyd. A sanctioned government police force committed the ultimate harm against a fellow human. All of the officers involved must be held accountable and all bad cops must be rooted out of all police departments. Action is needed now to prevent further injustices.

We all were taught early that two wrongs don’t make a right. Crimes committed against innocent people and property cannot be tolerated. What has happened to our city is inexcusable.

Where was the National Guard last night? After Friday night’s protests went out of control downtown, how is it that our mayor and governor did not take action to prevent further damage to innocent persons and their property? If government cannot do the basics by preventing anarchy, what kind of society will we have? We spend millions to attract people to our downtown, but do not take the necessary action to protect people and property located there.

Government’s primary duty is to protect life and property by maintaining order and security. Failure is obvious this morning.

I had the opportunity to talk to Tony Cento this morning, owner of the small business Cento Shoes. His business was looted last night. He is asking, “Where did our government go? They abandoned us.” Tony understands the right to protest injustice, but he can’t understand attacking innocent people and destroying their property.

On April 4, 1968, the day Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy happened to be in Indianapolis as he campaigned for the presidency. Upon hearing of the death of King, he spoke:

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”

Indianapolis was spared the riots and destruction that hit almost every other city following the death of King. Kennedy’s speech is credited with calming tensions in Indianapolis.

“Look at all those other cities,” the late William Crawford, then a member of the Black Radical Action Project, who was there, told The Indianapolis Star in 2015. “I believe it would have gone that way had not Bobby Kennedy given those remarks.”

Indianapolis was not spared this time. Perhaps Friday’s government response is excusable. Maybe leaders thought Indy would be spared again. Saturday night’s violence and destruction were predictable and the government response is inexcusable.

Where is our RFK?

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Feltman is CEO of IBJ Media and a shareholder in the company. To comment on this column, send email to nfeltman@ibj.com.

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14 thoughts on “Nate Feltman: Crimes against innocent people, property cannot be tolerated

  1. Mr. Feltman, you as well as I know. The Governor cannot send in the National Guard without getting a request from the Mayor of Indianapolis. Like all of the Democrat mayors around the country Mayor Joe did exactly the same thing and got exactly the same result. All of this damage is from people that do not overwhelmingly represent the local populace. Outside influence has been exerted. One of the things I noticed so distinctly when viewing the clips of the violence that so many of the people involved were not black but were white people.

    1. Neil, nice try, but Nate did not say anything about black people or white people, he said our local government has let us down. I agree. Don.

  2. Our “leaders” have let the citizens of the city down by their inexcusable show of ineptitude. Both the mayor and the governor need to be held accountable. And yes, I realize the mayor needed to ask the governor for help but how long does a true leader wait until they determine they need to bypass all the formalities and take decisive action.

  3. Indiana is a “home rule” state, meaning it is illegal for the governor to send in the National Guard without the expressed concent of the local governing body. Therefore it would have been a violation of state law for the governor to usurp the authority of Mayor Hogsett by activation and deployment of the Guard to Indianapolis on Saturday.

    1. Steven: So Indiana law is a formality? You’re suggesting the governor fight anarchy with anarchy?

  4. Nate, you absolutely nailed it here. Our government leaders did not lead. They knew on Saturday afternoon what was likely to happen and they just watched.

    1. Thanks for sharing this video. It was thought-provoking. He lost me toward the end with his comments about there being “no right way to protest” and defending looting, and I think his conclusions that put everything on society and nothing on individuals or local community is simplistic and distorted. However, he also make a lot of good points. Though it is almost 30 years ago now and I hope this sort of thing is more rare, my wife was working at a company that needed a temp. The office manager, who was older and would make bigoted comments in general noted that the name of the temp the agency was sending to them was “Latisha” with obvious distaste. When Latisha showed up the next day and was confirmed to be black, the office manager tolerated her for the day but then told the agency she wanted someone else thereafter. That woman’s offense was only that she was black. We had a friend from our large church who is a black woman (again, close to 25 years ago now) who on two occasions in our primarily white suburb of the time was pulled over by the police. One of those times the police said it was because they were looking for a black male related to some other event. She was a professional, very feminine, woman driving an almost new Saab, yet was somehow mistaken for a black male suspected of some crime. That sort of thing gets to a person I would have to imagine . . . as it should. My wife and I who are white with nice northern European names have never faced anything like that. I was even complimented once by someone telling me I had a “good name” when I was in my early 20s. I was initially pleased with the compliment but as I thought about it more I asked myself what was so “good” about my name and realized that it was likely because it was a nice English (as in my heritage) name. A name like that and the color of my skin made it more likely that when I also did temp work in my 20s that I wouldn’t face any pre-judgment walking in the door like Latisha did or get pulled over because the police were generically looking for a “white” person of either gender. So, yes, I realize that I have benefitted from a certain amount of “white privilege”.
      On the other hand, I find it remarkable that many voices out there would have me feel guilty for being white, ignore all the hard work I have put into getting where I am, and even worse make my children feel bad for being white. Isn’t this the very thing that black people don’t want? To be made to feel guilty/bad for the color of their skin, especially where their children are concerned? Though I think I’ve lived in accordance with the credo of not judging by the color of skin but by the content of character, I will again focus on my children, and my daughter in particular as the older. A few years ago I first sat her down on MLK Day to have her listen to his “I have a Dream Speech” and explain racism and the history of slavery to her. She was so perplexed. It didn’t compute with her why people would be treated that way because of the color of their skin. In my heart I was so very pleased that for her it was normal to just see people and not “black people” or “white people” or whatever. Yet I’m now asked to instill in her the idea that anything she does that is successful, no matter how hard she works for it, is somehow tainted by “white privilege”. I won’t do it. I will explain to her the injustices experienced by people like Latisha so that she can identify it and work against it in her own life, but I won’t teach her that she needs to feel guilty for being white. Human beings of all colors and types have been doing terrible things to each other throughout history and demonizing all white people, rather than particular people, based on a bracketed history feels to me like indiscriminate vengeance, not justice.

  5. I would suggest that the failure of leadership extends beyond elected officials since we all bear the burden of leaving the world in a better place.

  6. I thank Me. Feldman for his justified criticism of Indianapolis Mayor Joseph H. Hogsett and Indiana Governor Eric R. Holcomb. It is refreshing to see someone at the IBJ still had a few drops of sane reasoning as we can never expect unbiased and balanced “ news” analysis from Mr. Maurer.

    Woodrow N. “Woody” Myers, Jr., M.D., the 2020 Democratic gubernatorial candidate illegally gone over the head of the member of his party, who has prime responsibility to call the Governor for National Guard assistance from Indiana Adjutant General Lyles.

    I don’t think so because both those gentleman (Hogsett & Myers) are owned by the black faction of the Indiana Democrats and cannot win a citywide election without their enthusiastic support.

    It’s the Mayor fault and very egregious error in judgement to permit wide scale stealing, burning and destruction of property in the completely unacceptable level of lawlessness we saw on Friday and Saturday night (May 29, 30th).

    Mayor Hogsett answer to stealing, defacement of UnionArmy and post Civi War U.S. military memorials Is take down a Confederate monument to imprisoned Confederate soldiers at Camp Morton. A monument that few residents can find and don’t even know where to look for it.

    Do you tHunk that will assuage black criminals to stop rioting?

    It one thing for him to leave our streets like the roads in the condition of most blue states and metro cities and what n re-election by 70% , it’s quite another to allow and even encourage large scale destruction of private property by not providing the necessary orders to quell the violence and request military support to enforce no stealing and burning of over millions of dollars of businesses.

    The public policy judgement by the inept and toothless Hoggsett administration must answer for this debacle and complete breakdown of a civil society.

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