Activists Tie Themselves to Governor’s GatePosted on: May 22, 2018, by : Jeff Turner
Five activists affiliated with the Indiana Poor People’s Campaign used Zip Ties to tie themselves to the gates of the South Entrance to the Governor’s Residence on Monday in an attempt to bring attention to issues they feel plague the disadvantaged in Indiana.
“We’re here because of systemic racism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia — just the divisions that we’re fighting against that continually separate us, perpetuated by those in power,” said Tony Davis, one of the event organizers who tied himself to the gate. “We have told Governor Holcomb that if he will meet with us by conference call, webinar, et cetera, that we will vacate these premises. We have been stonewalled and ignored, but we are here for the long haul, for the people.”
Governor Holcomb is currently in Europe and will not return to Indianapolis until the end of the week. Nonetheless, the five activists are prepared to stay as long as necessary, even wearing diapers so they will be able to stay indefinitely, as well as having food and water brought to them by others involved with the Poor People’s Campaign. They slept outside in chairs, and as of this morning, were still cuffed to the gate.
“We have attempted to reach out to our representatives since February, but not to Holcomb personally. On February 5th, we made our demands to Brian Bosma and the Senate Leader David Long,” Davis went on to say. When asked if anyone organizing the event looked into the Governor’s schedule for this week before conducting this stunt, he said, “Absolutely not. That type of information isn’t available to the public. If the governor decided to make the information more transparent and made this (his schedule) available to the public, we could have coordinated it better with him. I, personally, have called the governor’s office on many occasions with the same placating answers.” (The information is actually available to the public. The European trade mission has been discussed on the local news, in the Indianapolis Star, and in the Indiana Business Journal, though the activists seemed unaware of this fact when asked.) Davis went on to explain that until Monday, the Poor People’s Campaign had not attempted to speak to the governor before.
The demands of the organizers, those in attendance from the Indiana Poor People’s Campaign, and the five tied to the gate were to meet with the governor by Friday, getting Holcomb to say on record that he will host a meeting with them, and that they refuse to leave until he agrees.
When asked what he would say to the governor if he were there right now, Davis responded, “The Indiana Poor People’s Campaign demands a sit down with him (Holcomb) to discuss our demands. Because I think we can get to the nuts and bolts with him, about specifics, once we get a hold of him. He can stand by us, or stand against our demands for equality.”
As of this writing, Holcomb has not publicly commented about the demonstrators or agreed to the terms of the protesters. In the meantime it appears that these five activists and the Poor People’s Campaign as a whole are indeed “in it for the long haul.” The term for this type of civil disobedience is non-violent moral diffusion direct action, and they claim that they have been trained in employing it. Though many police officers (IMPD and State Police) were on the scene observing Monday’s protest, their presence reduced dramatically toward the evening. State Police officers were even going as far as to make sure the protesters were “comfortable and healthy,” as one State Trooper phrased it. No arrests have been made and it is unknown whether Holcomb will agree to their terms.
When asked if he had a message he’d like to relay to the public, Davis said, “In order for us to achieve the real change that we need, we need to come together, quit sitting on the sidelines, to create the change within our communities. (Citizens) need to get involved. I don’t care how small. They need to get involved. It’s needed. I get tired of every day, waking up to the news, hearing that this person got killed, arrested, removed from the country. God never intended this, yet here we are. What are we going to do about it? Sit under the root of oppression or get involved and stand up to oppression?”
More information on the Poor People’s Campaign can be found at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org or by texting “MORAL” to 90975 to receive text updates on subsequent events the organization is planning.