Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Citizens Should Ultimately Be Commended for Peaceful IBE Finish

I have not said much about Indiana Black Expo over the last few weeks, and that’s simple. There really wasn’t much out of the ordinary to report. It seemed like a very well-run and excellent showcase event here in the City of Indianapolis.

Those on the right are rushing to congratulate Mayor Greg Ballard and his staff for the good job they did in managing the security situation downtown on the second weekend, and, you know what, he does deserve credit. I admit it. I would hope that many Democrats and Republicans alike would give the Mayor an “attaboy” for this. The Summer Celebration was a successful event, but it was ultimately the citizens of Indianapolis and those that attended the Summer Celebration that made it a great experience. The public safety plan just helped to facilitate it.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the Mayor’s plan. On Friday and Saturday, it was clear the goal was to put as many police officers and volunteers on the streets as possible downtown. Is that some big mystery? Is that some big innovative plan? After last year’s problems, Mayor Ballard would have qualified for a dunce cap had he not advocated for this. It was a no brainer.

The Mayor’s Administration did do some risky things that did apparently work. Ballard, IMPD, and others took the case directly to the gang members in town, and he told them that their presence was not welcome downtown. There was also a lot of work by volunteers in the faith-based community to make sure the Summer Celebration went off without a hitch.

A hearty congratulations, I think, belongs to IBE, IMPD and the Department of Public Safety, who were, no doubt, tasked with organizing that huge police presence downtown on the second weekend. I saw a number of different agencies at work. Sheriff John Layton’s deputies were on the streets as well as Indiana State Police troopers. It was a team effort, for sure.

I was downtown for about three hours on Friday night, and all was peaceful. Police officers were smiling and helping pedestrians and motorists. I saw one officer giving directions at the corner of Meridian and Georgia. The police I saw seemed to be in a good mood.

So, I credit, again, the Indiana Black Expo and the City of Indianapolis for a job well done. We, as citizens, failed last year, and it should be noted that what happened last year on the last Saturday of Indiana Black Expo was not a result of a police failure. It was the result of people acting like idiots.

It's a page turner now. Let's make sure that IBE stays the showcase event that it has been for many years and move the discussion forward. Melina Kennedy will do an excellent job next year in helping to facilitate this major, important event.

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