As community demands Council remove failed IndyPL Board members, sheriffs forcibly remove them from public meeting

by Riley Park-Bove and Doris Jones

On June 5, members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation attended the June City County Council meeting to deliver a community-organized petition demanding a public hearing on the lost confidence in four IndyPL Board members: Hope Tribble, Ray Biederman, Dr. Eugene White, and Luis Palacio. As the Council moved to adopt the agenda for the evening, they were interrupted by the courageous community activists. As a recent Indianapolis Liberation Center’s latest article makes clear, the people have won significant victories against powerful forces in the last several months. Monday’s action marked the next phase of this ongoing battle.

“Seeing as there’s no public comment on the agenda, the public is amending the agenda,” one member said from the back of the room. Though the front rows had all been reserved for guests of the Council, their voice was heard loud and clear. As they continued on to read the petition’s demands, Council President Vop Osili commanded the sheriffs present to “remove anyone disrupting the meeting.”

As the first speaker was shoved out of the room by a furious officer, another stood to continue reading the demands. In total, five people were violently forced out of the room, including a woman holding a baby and a person in a wheelchair.

For months, the IndyPL Board has ignored the community’s demands to hire Nichelle Hayes as CEO of IndyPL. During this time, the Council has made just a few feeble attempts to appear to be on the community’s side, including an open letter that was sent to the Board in January. Despite the fact that the Council is responsible for appointing two members of the Board – Hope Tribble and Dr. White – and could easily recall them for their failure to uphold the public trust, the Council has taken no concrete action.

Just as Tribble has shown that she is willing to use off-duty IMPD officers to intimidate the public at Board meetings, the Council has shown they would rather sic the police on their constituents rather than be held accountable for their lack of action.

After the activists were forced out of the Public Assembly Room, the City County Council passed a motion to recognize the 54th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and commemorate June as Pride month. Perhaps our representatives are not aware that those at the Stonewall Inn were fighting back against the same oppressive forces the Council casually wields against the community it supposedly serves. Three of the five people ejected from Monday’s meeting were queer, and at the orders of Osili they were shoved, grabbed, and screamed at by law enforcement for the crime of speaking out of turn. If the Council thinks they have any business honoring the bravery of the Stonewall Rebellion, they are deluding themselves. The Council is made up of exactly the kind of people that denounced the courageous uprising at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

Nevertheless, activists left the meeting energized and optimistic. These anti-democratic actions from our so-called representatives will not deter our community. We remain committed to the fight for a truly public library! Join us now by signing the petition, and pass it along to three of your friends. When we struggle together, we can win!