Indiana Black Legislative Caucus proposes specific justice reform

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS– The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus is getting specific about how leaders can address what recent protests are all about.

The group presented a list of demands Friday morning.

Phase one has four different immediate action requests and phase two is legislative action so that can’t be addressed until the lawmakers are back.

“Since we are not in session until January, we are requesting that the governor take immediate action to reform our justice system,” said IBLC Chair State Rep. Robin Shackleford.

The group wants the governor to create a diverse statewide criminal justice commission now to come up with proposed legislation next year.

It asks cities and counties to establish local independent civilian review boards to oversee complaints of police violence.

And it demands Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issue an executive order to immediately ban law enforcement from using chokehold restraints – like Minneapolis just agreed to.

“Per our attorneys that are on our membership, they said that the governor can do an executive order that has to do with any health or safety issue around the state, so police officers using a chokehold we consider that a health and safety risk,” explained Rep. Shackleford

The IBLC also provided a list of suggestions for legislative action. Including statewide body and dashboard cameras, an anti-racial profiling law and a state database for citizen complaints against law enforcement.

“We need everybody at the table,” said Republican State Sen. Jim Merritt. He said this conversation should include both political parties. He agrees with the IBLC’s list.

“I’d be really grateful if the governor would step in and be the catalyst for change here and open conversation so everybody gets their say,” said Merritt.

Merritt said he’s particularly passionate about the possibility of a statewide criminal justice commission.

“I want to figure out exactly what training is and how someone who is a suspect is subdued, it should never be choking,” said Merritt.

Republican State Sen. Michael Crider, the Senate Majority Whip, also weighed in on the IBLC’s requests.

“It is clear that now is a time for policymakers to listen. Several of my fellow senators and I recently had the opportunity to meet with some leaders in the African American community to have honest conversations about racial inequality. I want to be part of the solution and am open to working with folks from all walks of life to make Indiana a better place for all Hoosiers.”

STATE SEN. MICHAEL CRIDER, GREENFIELD (R)

And the IBLC made it clear – these changes can’t wait.

“I think now is the time where people are saying we are fed up enough that no matter what, COVID-19, no matter our pain, we are going to come out and stand up and I’m hoping our leaders will listen,” said Shackleford.

During the Governor’s press conference Friday he said he spoke to members of IBLC briefly that morning. He said they have meetings planned and appreciates their input. The governor added there needs to be a sense of urgency taken.

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