Indiana News

Black Hoosiers raise issues in ‘silent protest’ at Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Black Legislative Caucus is standing together with Hoosiers in a “Call To Action” at the Statehouse.

The “Call to Action” is to last through next week and is open to the public. As part of the “Call to Action” on Tuesday, Black leaders had a “silent protest” and carried signs naming bills they believe should’ve been heard or need to be stopped.

Marshawn Wolley, the director of advocacy at the African-American Coalition of Indianapolis, said, “It’s very important that our voice not be silenced at this time. That we continue to raise the issues that matter to our community. We support the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. We stand with them. There’s no space between us.”

Tuesday was Day 2 of the caucus’ “Call to Action” days at the Statehouse. It’s a chance for people to voice legislative concerns and stand in support of the caucus. Tuesday morning focused on educating people about bills and amplifying conversations about racial equity.

Tanya McKinzie, president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Black Expo, said, “There’s a lot of bills, bad bills, that have been pushed, to put a Band-Aid on the issue rather than ‘let’s talk about the root causes of the issue and try to address them’ as far as a solution.”

On Tuesday, some people spoke out against a bill that would jeopardize IndyGo’s planned Purple and Blue lines. People also talked about a healthy food incubator program bill that has not been given a hearing.

Wolley said, “We know people are really struggling right now. Food lines are long in a lot of our food pantries. … This is a bill that would address that.”

A bill the caucus supports is Senate Bill 270, which deals with landlords and tenants, but hasn’t had a hearing. Tony Mason, president and chief executive officer of Indianapolis Urban League, said, “It’s crucial that we put in protections, especially in the face of the fact that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and the economic fallout that has come with it. We know that before the (coronavirus) pandemic, almost 50,000 families or households were in jeopardy of either being evicted or foreclosed upon. We know with the pandemic, those numbers are far greater.”

The caucus’ days of action are also a chance for younger Hoosiers to make their voices heard. Ashley Gurvitz, chief executive officer of the Alliance for Northeast Unification, said, “Our voice is to be leading right now. But most importantly, leveraging and having witness our youth being able to understand that they can make their difference and change now as well.”

People interested in attending “Call to Action” days should contact RaeVen Ridgell, the caucus’ executive director, at raeven.ridgell@iga.in.gov.

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