Indiana Black Legislative Caucus pushing for better behavior

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("Indiana State Capitol Building" by Drew Tarvin, CC BY 2.0)

You may have heard about the incident where some Black state lawmakers were booed and shouted down while speaking on the House floor. The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus has been trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

At a Thursday news conference, Rep. Robin Shackleford, Chair of the Caucus, also revealed that much of the legislation that has been aimed at Marion County and Indianapolis, may not become law this year.

Neither she nor House Speaker Todd Houston would say much more about it. But, some Republican lawmakers have introduced bills to control Indianapolis government, including a takeover of the police department by an appointed committee, rather than the City-County Council.

But, one of the main reasons the Caucus held their press conference, which was at the Statehouse, was to show that both Republicans and Democrats were unhappy with the Feb. 18, incident.

“I have watched advocates both young and old show their support for the caucus,” said Shackleford. “It has been an inspiration. We have been progressing on what that reprimand looks like, what that training looks like, putting together a committee to work on those items.”

Houston said he believes he could do a better job as a leader to never let people be shouted down.

“I was extraordinarily disappointed by the actions that took place in the House chamber. Every day I’m working to ensure that dowsn’t happen again,” he said. “I need to do a better job…of enforcing House rules and ensuring that every voice is heard and every voice in respected and I promise that I will do a much better job in the future of doing that.”

House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta echoed those comments.

“We had members that were speaking at the microphone…that were speaking from the heart. They were speaking from life experiences that they had. To be shouted down, booed, jeered, is totally unacceptable and should never happen again.”

Both Shackleford and Houston spoke favorably about a house bill that will likely pass with bipartisan support (HB 1006), that will ban police choke holds in many circumstances, make it a crime to turn off a body cam, and make de-escalation techniques a part of police basic training.

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