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Racial justice demonstrations continue in downtown Lafayette

Demonstration leaders say they're working to re-imagine policing and the prison system.

Posted: Jul 28, 2020 9:24 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The fight for racial reconciliation is continuing here in Tippecanoe County. On Saturday, a group of racial justice advocates held a demonstration outside the county courthouse. Demonstration leaders say they're working to re-imagine policing and the prison system.

"Safer communities are not communities that are more heavily policed or have more police, they're communities that are well resourced," said Ulyssa Hester, demonstration organizer and member of The Collective.

The Collective is an advocacy group that fights for Black and Brown people. The demonstration included educating people on how Tippecanoe County leaders are resourcing its funds. Organizers used this data, which they say was gathered during the 2019 County Council Budget Hearing. The demonstration also included looking at ways some of the county's funds could go toward other community organizations.

"If we have more money going towards these resources that people need, that can begin to help address those conditions that allow for harm to be more likely," said Hester.

Hester said in addition to looking at re-imagining the county's expenditures, the demonstration is also working to address the way people rely on the police. Hester said the way policing and the prison system currently operate doesn't necessarily allow criminals to grow from their mistakes.

"It doesn't call to make sure that the person deeply understands the harm that they caused, and it doesn't get to the root of the harm, and often times it doesn't repair the harm and it doesn't center the folks who were harmed," said Hester.

"I hope that people are willing to be more engaged in a number of ways," said Michelle Lyzenga, another event organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

Part of this demonstration included a skit. Lyzenga said the goal was to try and find solutions to issues that Black and Brown people can face when the cops are called on them.

"Trying to find alternatives to calling the police and using them to address a situation that any citizen could just as well address to de-escalate a situation," said Lyzenga.

All the information given during the demonstration will also be presented to the county and city leaders. The Collective members have been meeting Mayor Tony Roswarski to discuss racial issues. They plan to continue meeting in the future.

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