Limiting the Use of Force of Local Law Enforcement
The 2021 legislative session has witnessed a number of bills that aim at negatively impacting the existing oversight structures for local police departments. An example is Senate Bill 311, which gives police officers almost complete discretion in using force, including deadly force. It also allows them to ignore department policy on how much force to use. Further, the bill prevents departments, cities and counties from restricting an officer's discretion on the use of force.
We believe this bill is bad for the people of Indiana because it goes against our system of checks and balances. Checks and balances are essential to a free society. This bill is out of balance because it removes most checks on an officer's discretion to use force. Even the officer's own police department would not be able to enforce protocol on the use of force in many cases.
Fortunately the troublesome language was removed from the bill at its last hearing on February 16. Hazem Bata, IMAN Associates Policy Advisor, attended the hearing to testify in opposition to the bill. However, since the harmful language was removed our position was neutral.
Silencing the voices of Black Legislators
On February 18, 2021, Rep. Greg Porter and Rep. Vernon Smith, two members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, were booed by fellow legislators while speaking against bill HB1367, which would allow residents to leave the racially diverse South Bend school system and become part of a mostly white neighboring district. The bill narrowly passed with 52-43 votes.
Adorned by his African garb to celebrate the Black History month on that day, Rep. Smith shared afterwards that “The legislature is known for its institutional racism.” The IBLC came out strong and issued a statement condemning the disrespectful behavior from Republican members. In a press conference, Rep. Robin Shackleford, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) chair, asked House Speaker Todd Huston for all legislators to receive Implicit Bias Training. In fact, the IBLC has started a petition “urging accountability for the mistreatment of Black legislators.” Also, Caucus members are organizing a “Call to Action” days at the Indiana Statehouse, where supporters can show up in solidarity with them. Call to Action days started last week and will continue throughout the next week.
IMAN Associates has issued a statement denouncing the lack of decorum and civility in the statehouse, and urging legislators to rediscover respect for the diverse perspectives of all members of the Indiana General Assembly. We urge our members to support the members of the IBLC and sign the petition.
Anti-Asian violence spiked nationwide
While our nation has been reeling for the last year from the pandemic, Asian Americans have been the victims of hateful incidents across the U.S., including the Indiana Asian American community members. They have been the target of xenophobic attacks, ranging from “verbal bullying and micro aggressions to outright assaults and lethal violence.”
The Indiana chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) is launching a campaign to speak out against the spike of violent attacks and urge Governor Holcomb to take official action to condemn the bigotry. Please sign this petition in solidarity with the Asian American community and share it with others.
Evictions and Housing Disparities: A Crisis in the Works
A global health and economic crisis has numerous repercussions on an already challenged housing scene in Indiana. To that point, IMAN Associates, in collaboration with IMCA and Masjid Al-Mumineen, is hosting “Evictions and Housing Disparities: A Crisis in the Works” on March 13, 2021 at 2PM.
We will hear from Amy Nelson, the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, about the unfolding situation of housing insecurity and disparities in Indiana, and the resources currently available to help Hoosiers navigate the housing challenges.
The event is free but registration is required. Register here.
Check our newsletters for the latest updates at the Indiana Statehouse and upcoming events in the Muslim community.