Statement from the Allen County Democratic Party’s Central Committee, June 10, 2020:
Good morning, Democrats,
We, as members of this community, feel we must address Fort Wayne’s current events. We have witnessed and participated in the Black Lives Matter protests in Fort Wayne which occurred on Friday and Saturday, May 29 – 30 specifically. We have cleaned, provided aid, and protested during those two tumultuous days. We have borne witness to an aggressive and excessive response to citizens utilizing their 1st Amendment rights.
While we understand the need to protect our citizens and public property, the extreme response by the city beginning on Friday and being repeated on Saturday, was not a public safety measure. The exorbitant militarized response did not protect the public but put them in direct danger.
There are personal accounts and videos of excessive force used on our citizens, a vast majority of whom were protesting peacefully. There are live news feeds of the City of Fort Wayne deploying tear gas on the public. We strongly condemn the use of excessive force and tear gas on the citizens of Fort Wayne. An act no longer condoned on the fields of battle per the Geneva Protocol of 1925. Dispensing this despicable chemical on citizens is in and of itself a travesty which only is compacted by its use during a pandemic that targets the lungs.
In addition, a local judge authorized the city to extend the stays of misdemeanor offenses during this highly contagious pandemic. Such actions are unacceptable especially in this time of crisis. During their stay, they were denied masks while being subjected to tight quarters and frigid conditions.
We will acknowledge an effort was made by the Mayor and the Chief of Police during the “Unity Walk” on the MLK Bridge the following week. The anticipated acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an apology with charges being dropped against those arrested did not happen. As a result, the walk appeared to be nothing more than an empty gesture.
We believe the following steps must be taken to begin the healing process this city desperately needs:
- Drop charges against those arrested.
- Tear gas use is banned.
- Reimburse all citizens who have medical bills as a result of the excessive force.
- Police policy changes regarding mediation and de-escalation training with hard deadlines for implementation.
- Improved training and tactics based explicitly around the de-escalation of high-stress situations. This program must have complete transparency and 3rd party oversight.
- Accountability policy regarding police officer’s use of force to include the creation of a Civilian Review Board.
We are members of this community and cannot stand silently by while our citizens’ rights are being infringed upon. These changes are only the beginning. We fully support our sisters and brothers of color, stand with them on their path to justice, and are committed to working with them to end oppression and ensure their equitable future. All lives matter when black and brown lives matter.
The Allen County Democratic Party Central Committee
ACDP, Vice Chair
IN Democrat African American Caucus FW, President
Latino Democrats of Allen Co, President
ACDP Election Committee, Chair
ACDP Women’s Club, President
Democratic Voter Registration Representative
Allen County Young Democrats, Acting-President
ACDP Deputy Chair of Technology