Statement from Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th) dated June 8, 2020:
As the representative of the Fifth District in Fort Wayne, I am honored to represent a varied and diverse district. As were many of my constituents, I was deeply affected by the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer. Violence against citizens at the hands of police cannot be tolerated.
I respect the citizens of Fort Wayne who came out the weekend of May 29 and May 30 to bring awareness to the deaths of black citizens around the country at the hands of police. We now know that what stated as a peaceful assembly resulted in protesters clashing with police in Fort Wayne’s streets. Some protesters caused damage to downtown properties. Destruction of property is never acceptable.
There continues to be debates of what happened and how. It is clear from first hand accounts and video footage that police utilized tear gas and other tactical methods to disperse crowds, furthering chaos in downtown Fort Wayne.
During my time on City Council, I have consistently supported the Fort Wayne Police. I believe our officers and command staff are extremely professional and keep our community safer. However, many citizens have contacted Council members in the past week to complain that police tactics were extreme and participated in unnecessary injuries to innocent bystanders.
I hope our police force will move forward with a significant effort placed on de escalation of such situations. Citizens will continue to protest, as is their Constitutional right. As leaders, we must have a plan in place to address and support theses rights and maintain safety for all citizens.
In a conversation with police Chief Steve Reed, I requested a debriefing and an analysis of the procedures that took place on May 29 and 30. As a community, we need to analyze what happened and how we might defuse such a situation again. I want to see more efforts made at training police officers to address these tense situations and work to de escalates tensions as much as possible.
As leaders, we must have a plan in place to address and support citizens’ rights and maintain safety for all citizens. I call on the Fort Wayne Police Department to evaluate their decisions and protocols. I implore citizens to continue to protest peacefully, to continue to bring about the change we all desire.