INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A highly anticipated discussion on race and policing took place in front a full crowd at Ivy Tech Community College Monday.
Leaders from religious organizations, social activists, and IMPD led the panel.
It was all about being open and honest, regardless if the topics being discussed might have made people feel uncomfortable.
That’s because through conversation, the groups hoped it would lead to positive change.
The panel includes members of Don’t Sleep Indy, a social activist group wanting to instill trust in IMPD through fair and accountable policing.
Representatives from the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the Jewish Community Relations Council talked about religious tension in the US and how acts of terrorism have fueled it.
What followed were then solutions on how to address the root cause of racial and religious issues.
Often times it centered on mental health.
“I feel like this discussion was very important because it helps not only the community but the students here at Ivy Tech understand more about racism. They also defined it in different ways that it doesn’t only specifically have to do with black lives but everyone as a whole,” said Ivy Tech student, Casandra Gallegos.
A pivotal point happened when members of Don’t Sleep Indy expressed frustration with their inability to talk directly with top IMPD brass.
IMPD Assistant Chief Randal Taylor, who was on the panel then, handed them his card with his cell phone number.
Later on, Don’t Sleep Indy gave him a “Black Lives Matter” pin to wear.
“I’m wearing it more as a promise then that I will not shut you down, I will listen to what you have to say, I’ll try to help you in any way I can to implement things that are going to best for the community and the department,” Asst. Chief Taylor said.
During another portion of the dialogue, Rima Khan-Shahid, the executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, spoke about concerns over Islamaphobia stating, “Unfortunately I think anytime anything happens on the news, all 8 million Muslim Americans are sitting there with their fingers and toes and everything crossed saying, ‘I hope his name is not like mine’,” she said.
Khan-Shahid then addressed the crowd to do its part to end hate and be an advocate. She said too often Muslim Americans have to be ambassadors for their religion when something bad happens and is perceived to have ties to Islam. “I believe that anytime anybody kills another person is mentally ill. And this is not in the name Allah,” she said.