Briggs’ attack on Councilor Brown shows how out of touch he is with the masses

James Briggs, the conservative opinion editor for the Indianapolis Star, has launched his first, but surely not his last, attack on City-County Councilor Jesse Brown. What has Brown done that is objectionable? He has criticized a (Republican!) political opponent in the Statehouse and organized to defeat him. In doing so, says Briggs, Brown is “going rogue” in a way that “could cost the city at the Statehouse.”

This is not new ground for Briggs, who attacked former Councilor Ethan Evans after he left the City-County Council’s Democratic caucus, ridiculously calling Evans’s departure an exposure of the “limits of leftist activism.”

Briggs accused Brown of having a “humiliation agenda,” of “rebranding Indianapolis as radical left,” and of spoiling the goodwill of the same Republicans who stripped away our reproductive rights, demonized trans children against popular will, and continually pass laws overriding the democratically expressed desires of the people of Indianapolis. On the other hand, Brown—an open member of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America—has consistently stood with the majority of the people, whether it be pushing Medicare for All or demanding a genuinely public library.

What Briggs calls “Brown’s humiliation agenda” is Brown’s stated goal of unseating Freeman, someone who has said he is trying to “save Indianapolis from itself.” What “from itself” means, and what it always means, is protecting wealthy people and corporations from the will of the masses of poor people, of immigrants, of Black and brown people that live in this city.

What is Briggs’ counter proposal?

“Democrats, from Mayor Joe Hogsett down, have cultivated a palatable moderate brand.”

Briggs would have Democrats who do not rock the boat. Briggs would have the Democrats do nothing that the people of Indianapolis desire. He approvingly cites the Mayor of Indianapolis here, as a model of “restraint” that Brown should learn from:

“‘I can tell you what I do,’ Hogsett told reporters last month, ‘and that is, I hide. It’s been made clear to us that my active participation in these debates is not necessarily always well received. And I appreciate that.’”

This is what the people of Indianapolis should rally around? Hiding? Taking no action? Refraining from even criticizing the actions of people who, on paper, definitionally, are supposed to represent us? This is certainly what Freeman says he wants: civility.

Has any movement achieved its goals by hiding, being polite, kneeling before its powerful opponents in public and then meeting with them in private to beg for concessions?

The people of Indianapolis are not children who need the concepts of strategy or biding time explained to us. Working people know better than anyone what it means to wait for the right season for struggle.

For people like Briggs, Hogsett, and the rest of our self-appointed betters, though, the best time for us to pursue popular representative laws is never, and the only other option is maybe tomorrow. It will never be today on their timeline.

We embrace the movement to defeat politicians who oppose the well-being of the people

In the Democratic primary election, the people of Indianapolis were given a choice between the moderate, establishment Democrat that Briggs upholds as a model and a popular socialist. The people overwhelmingly chose Brown, despite his outsider status, over Zach Adamson, who had served multiple terms and was the Vice President of the City-County Council. In the general election that followed, Brown easily defeated his second opponent, a Libertarian who, like Briggs, attacked Brown as a “radical leftist.”

Brown did not win either election because the Democratic Party supported him; he won both because of grassroots energy that was mobilized and organized by his own campaign. The people elected Brown because he, unlike Adamson or Briggs, has a proven track record of doing what is right and standing up for the people.

Brown is activating the people again in the popular effort to unseat Freeman. We salute the movement of the people to demand an Indianapolis that is safe for bicyclists and pedestrians, that funds mass transit, and that works for the people instead of a dictatorship of car salesmen and landlords. That is an Indianapolis worth fighting for, and we are glad to have Brown on the people’s side!

Featured photo: City-County Counselor Jesse Brown of District 13 speaking at the 2024 March for Choice Rally in January 2024.