If Friday night was dress rehearsal, the Saturday night was a command performance. The combined efforts of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, State Police, Capitol Police, the Ten-Point Coalition and faith-based community, Indiana Black Expo, parents who acted like parents and teenagers who didn’t act like knuckleheads all came together to make that dreaded “second Saturday night” of Expo a success. Last year police were responding to nine people being shot. The suspect in that case entered a plea of guilty to most of the charges.
I spent several hours in the area, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The heavy police presence was there. About 8:45 p.m. police and mall security started closing down Circle Center Mall and getting the young people to exit. In addition, officers kept pedestrian traffic moving to prevent loitering and they blocked off several streets to better direct and control the vehicular traffic. I also think the construction helped as well. And in a lot of places, the faith-based folks took the lead in engaging young people while police stayed in the background ready to assist if needed.
To the best of my knowledge, the biggest offense was a individual who had a weapon in his car, but no permit. And even he would have been fine had he complied with police when they told him his stereo was too loud. And two guys did get arrested for fighting near Washington and Capitol, however if you’re stupid enough to get into a brawl with eight officers nearby, you deserve to locked up. There were some other minor arrests, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The crowd did seem about a third smaller this year than last. Some attribute that to parents actually paying attention and not allowing their kids to go downtown unsupervised at that hour of night. And while curfew began at 11, police started enforcing it at 10 p.m. for kids who were 12 and under. One incident I did recall was a parent who had to pick up her son near Steak N’ Shake. The boy was late and his mother was livid. At that point, if I were him, I would have done something to get arrested because I would have probably been safer in jail than at home. And some young people who left downtown did head over to the canal area, but guess what? Law enforcement was already there to greet them and make sure they were safe.
Like I said overall, much of the evening was fine and a complete 180-degree turn from last year. And it demonstrates with coordinated efforts that second Saturday night of Expo doesn’t have to become New Jack City. One major criticism I do have is for the critics; the people who complained that there were “too many” police and law enforcement was turning downtown into a police state and trying to equate Black Expo with crime. These people obviously have no clue. Instead of getting mad at law enforcement, they should get mad at the conditions that made it necessary for that much law enforcement to be there in the first place. Get upset because a cop lost his night off with his family. Get upset because the downtown establishments lost money because the usual paying crowds stayed away. Get upset at the employees who lost money in tips or because they places of work shut down early because they were worried about their safety. And if you really want to get mad at someone, get mad at yourselves for not volunteering with the faith-based community to help patrol the streets and keep things moving smoothly. By the way, I was looking for you and didn’t see any of you? Maybe you were at the “White Party”.
Once again, much credit to all parties involved. As someone who writes about controversial matters on a regular basis, I am happy to report that last night was pretty much uneventful. I always say for for nine and a half days with Expo everything is fine. Maybe next year I can change that to ten.