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Fears of more violent protests put downtown Indianapolis on edge

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some downtown business owners prepared for the worst after violent protests broke out in Louisville after a Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor’s death.

Boards were added to windows at Big Red Liquors on Pennsylvania Street, and across the street at Winner’s Circle, a sports pub. Ceaser’s Entertainment, the group that owns Winner’s Circle, did not respond to a request to find out if the boards were added in response to Breonna Taylor’s case, and employees at Big Red Liquors said off-camera that their bosses asked them to get the windows covered to prepare for possible riots.

Not all downtown businesses are on board. The owner of Downtown Comics, Doug Stephenson, said he plans to wait on word from the city or Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department before acting. He fears covering windows now could be asking for trouble later.

“At some point we have got to put a little bit of trust in city officials, that they’ve figured things out from previously and that they’re going to do everything in their power to protect our businesses and livelihoods,” Stephenson said.

Meanwhile, protesters wasted no time hitting the streets in downtown Indianapolis. Matt Davis from the Racial Justice Alliance said his group is asking for three major demands: a partial defunding of police while refunding public services and programs, a directly elected citizen council, and an end to cash bail.

“The problem with Louisville is after 194 days, nearly 200 days of trying to get the bad apples out, we are here at this main roadblock figuring out its the whole orchard. Every tree, every department is rotten,” Davis said.

IMPD Maj. Harold S. Turner said, in some ways, he can see where protesters are coming from but wants people to understand police officers are only a small part of the entire criminal justice system.

“We have to focus on that larger system, and police are a loyal profession. Right? And, good is bad, we do what we’re told. We put the policies in place. Does that mean we are perfect? No, and when we make mistakes, yeah, we’re gonna make mistakes,” Turner said.

He hopes IMPD’s presence does not provoke but instead protects.

Organizers of Wednesday night’s peaceful protest said Indianapolis could see several more days of demonstrations but shared no plans for future protests.