The Bloomingtonian

Youth activists organize sit-in for racial justice in Indianapolis

June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

By Mary Claire Molloy – Special to the Bloomingtonian

They kneel before the state capitol building, three black fists in the air. In solidarity. In power. In mourning.

There is a rush when 10,000 others kneel with them, when 10,000 voices go silent. 


A woman in the crowd is burning white sage, despite being reprimanded by a police officer earlier. There can be no bad spirits here. 

The protestors kneel in the silence for exactly 3 minutes and 7 seconds, heads bowed and fists raised.

The first 2 minutes and 53 seconds represent how long George Floyd was unresponsive with a police officer’s knee on his neck. 

“I can’t breathe!”

The 14 remaining seconds symbolize the 14 times Dreasjon Reed was shot by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“Think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie.”

When the moment is finished, the three who began the silence stand up and join the other organizers back on the steps of the state capitol.

All six stand together.

They are young black women, and they are in charge.

***

It started with a small protest downtown. Only about 20 people came, but they met each other and were inspired, member Yasmine Anderson said. 

They planned another peaceful protest together last Saturday, promoting the event all week on social media. Twenty people grew to 4,000.

Black Women in Charge was officially formed and named in the week leading to yesterday’s sit-in event—the largest protest for racial justice in the last 30 years in Indianapolis history. 

“For the last seven days, we’ve been just up every single night, all night, brainstorming,” Anderson, 20, told The Bloomingtonian. “It was God and love and luck, to be quite honest.” 

Other members of the organization include her younger sister, Sadiyah Anderson, 16;  Langdan Willoughby, 18; Nia-Hyatt Eldosougi, 18; Taylor Hall, 19; and Tyshara Loynes, 21. 

Yesterday morning, they came hours before the sit-in to set up. The National Guard and police were occupying the steps of the state capitol building they planned to stand on. Helicopters circled overhead and police dogs sniffed piles of food and supplies. The six women went into this space, determined to hold it as their own.

“Don’t underestimate us.”

***

Hall wrote and performed an original song on the guitar called “I can’t breathe”.

Mercy me

What’s going on?

Drop to my knees

God keep me strong

“One of my brothers has been harassed by the police…he was beaten on Michigan Road where Sean Reed was killed,” she told The Bloomingtonian. “So many stories about police brutality are not filmed. It happens every single day.” 

This world is crazy

Losing my mind

Is this 2020 or 1969?

Going backwards

Can’t get ahead

Every time I watch the news

Another black man’s dead

Sadiyah Anderson told the crowd that she recites three prayers every time she hears police sirens. 

“These prayers are dedicated to the person that was being chased, the serenity of the alleged offender’s family and that the officers make the right and just choices.” 

Speak up

We got to call out the wrong

We won’t rest until Trayvon can make it home

Eldosougi went to pray at the mosque before the protests. 

“The Black Lives Matter fight is the Islamic fight because when there’s injustice anywhere, it’s a threat to justice everywhere,” she told The Bloomingtonian. “I have a little brother that’s black and Sudanese and Muslim and gay, and I want to be here to protect him.” 

Got my face on the ground

Foot on my neck

Crushing my chest

While I’m telling you 

I can’t breathe 

I can’t breathe 

I can’t breathe

Congressman André Carson joined Black Women in Charge on the steps of the state capitol building. He announced that he would be introducing a dash cam and body cam bill to Congress because of their work. 

“It is because of these black women that you all are here to show up and show out,” he said to the sea of protestors. 

If we get cut

We both bleed

If I was down

Would you help me?

Keep moving forward

We’ve gone too far

Don’t judge me by my skin

But love me for my heart.

June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Member of the Indiana State Police keeps members of the media off the steps of the statehouse. Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Banner signed by activists for the family of Sean Reed. Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)n/Polaris)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett arrives before speaking. Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: André Carson stands with activists. Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
June 6, 2020 – Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Members of the Indiana National Guard stand outside the statehouse. Black Lives Matter activists participate in a non-violent sit-in at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 6, 2020. The protesters are protesting against the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality. (Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

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