First Amendment trial begins in Ajabu v. Market East Portfolio, LLC.

Wednesday, November 1
11:30 am

Marion County Courtroom 13

November 1 marks the start of a lawsuit over first-amendment rights in Indianapolis with the first hearing of Mmoja Ajabu v. Market East Portfolio, LLC. The lawsuit is a legal battle over the right to conduct business with elected representatives, to peacefully assemble to redress public grievances at public offices without impediments by private citizens or corporations. Market East LLC., of 350 E. New York St., Suite 200, owns and manages 251 E. Ohio St. and leases space to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. At its core, the suit stems from the ongoing struggle regarding Gary Harrell, who was killed by IMPD officer Douglas Correll

On September 5, a group of community members, organizations, religious leaders, and concerned citizens peacefully entered the Prosecutor’s reception area to request a meeting with Ryan Mears. The receptionist communicated that Mears would be down to speak with the group shortly. Instead, Mears sent representatives who claimed Mears could not meet with them.

The ad-hoc group requested a meeting weekly. On September 19, the receptionist asked the group led by Pastor Denell Howard of Hovey St. Church to wait in the atrium. The landlord, surrounded by armed IMPD officers and Sheriff deputies, then forced the group to leave the building. After a short dialogue, Ben Tracy reported, the group complied.

Ajabu’s complaint stems from September 26. Ajabu and the group were prohibited from attempting to set up a meeting and, when asked how to do so, were met with more armed police. The complaint and the emergency request for a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the landlord allege the private citizen representing Market East LLC. Prevented Ajabu from exercising his first-amendment rights to conduct business, access public records, and petition for a redress of grievances. Each complaint notes that every time the public was refused access to public records.

The Indianapolis Liberator, the online newspaper of the Indianapolis Liberation Center that covered each event, first requested a response from Mears on September 6 before publishing their first article. They have yet to receive a response.