Make your home page

Dozens of protestors demand former Newfields CEO be reinstated

Dozens of protesters gather at Newfields – News 8 at 10

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dozens of protestors gathered outside of Newfields on the opening nights of the Winterlights events to show support for Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette.

The protesters demanded for Burnette to be reinstated as President and CEO of the institution after her sudden departure.

Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette was the first black woman to lead Newfields as the President and CEO. She was on the job for just over a year prior to the announcement she would no longer hold the position. She was celebrated for her work in bringing new perspectives to the institution.

Wildstyle Paschall is a community advocate and artist in Indianapolis. He helped other community leaders to get the protest together and get the word out to the community.

“[She was] making real change at Newfields, which is something we had never seen before,” Paschall said. “And for her to be summarily dismissed like that, it was really upsetting, and I felt that was a fight against progress in the city.”

In a press release announcing the change, Newfields said in part, “Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette will depart Newfields as President and CEO.” The release further thanked her and said, “She helped deepen our relationships with the community and championed the transformative powers of art and nature.”

Community advocates said this is not enough of an explanation.

“What I want to hear is the truth someday from Newfields,” Paschall said. “I don’t have any expectations.”

Burnette took the job after the former President and CEO left the institution after a racially insensitive job listing was posted.

“It’s a situation where we have a black woman brought in to clean up a mess created by white racists, and those people thought she had done her work and they could push her out,” said Noah Leininger with the Indy Liberation Center. “We’re here to tell them no, she needs to keep doing work very obviously by the fact that they tried to do this.”

“I would say it’s putting Newfields, not even back to square one, but a few steps behind where they were when Charles Venable left,” said Paschall.

The protest was community-led and organized by members of the Indianapolis Urban League, Indiana Black Expo, and the Indiana Liberation Center. The hour-plus-long demonstration was met with support from some passing vehicles.

Newfields declined to comment for this story.