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Senator Melton speaks after alleged racial profiling incident

The Gary 411

Two Indiana State Senators, one white and one Black, are taking the high road concerning an altercation with Capitol Police last Saturday at the state capitol building in Indianapolis.

In the statement issued jointly by State Senators Eddie Melton (D-Gary) and J.D. Ford (D-Indpls.), they said, “We are addressing this internally in a more formal process, because attendants of the rally have already begun sharing their account of the incident on social media.”

Belinda Drake, an Indiana State Senate candidate who was at the “Beyond the Big Tent – Black Voices in Politics” rally with Ford and Melton, said she saw racial profiling. “I was witness to a racial profiling incident between State Senator Eddie Melton and an Indiana State Trooper.”

Saturday’s rally began on the capitol grounds. With a thunderstorm alert and the sudden appearance of extreme weather conditions, a group of approximately 50 people were directed into the entrance of the Statehouse by the senators to wait out the storm.

Senator Ford said the fast moving storm had hit downtown Indianapolis. “Senator Melton and I swiped our ID badges to let the group in to seek shelter from the elements. Immediately, we were approached by facilities staff and private security who demanded to see our credentials. The security staff initially gave us the OK to be there, but then called the Capitol Police over to question us as well.”

When the senators approached the two Capitol Police officers, Drake said police were aggressive with Melton. “A State Trooper began screaming at Senator Melton and yelling at him to ‘freeze’. Then the trooper popped the clip on his firearm holster, presumably in preparation to draw his weapon while he continued yelling at Senator Melton.”

“I understand the officer involved must have not realized we were senators since we were dressed in casual clothes, but that does not make it any better,” Ford said. “This situation was handled extremely poorly by the Capitol Police. No member of the public deserves to be treated that way, or spoken to so disrespectfully by officers who are there to serve the public.”

Drake said, “Senator Ford was eventually able to get the trooper to hear him and to ease his aggression toward Senator Melton. The difference in how aggressively the trooper treated Senator Melton compared to how generously he treated Senator Ford was unnerving.”

“These kinds of incidents are all too common for Black and brown Hoosiers,” Ford said. “The only difference is that this time I had a front-row seat and got to see with my own eyes exactly why so many Hoosiers are so upset with the way they are often treated by law enforcement.”

“It’s unfortunate that this situation had to take place,” Melton said. “Senator Ford and I have already reached out to President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray and Lieutenant Beamon about the matter.”

He added, “I don’t want this situation to become a distraction from the work that we’re doing through the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus on our police reform agenda.”

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