July 18, 2011 1 Comment
This weekend, Indianapolis hosted the Indiana Black Expo and it was a huge success. Over the last few years, the positive aspects of the event have been overshadowed by violence. The saddest part of this is that the violence was caused not by those attending the official Black Expo events but those using the event as a reason to loiter around downtown.
This year, however, was a much-needed positive experience that showed the Black Expo can be a safe, fun-filled weekend for families. You can read the Star’s full story here but here are some of the highlights.
Vernon Williams, IBE spokesman, said officials hope it is a turnaround that will carry over to future Summer Celebrations and help erase the taint of past violence.
“We’re just extremely gratified,” Williams said, “that there were no serious incidents last night.”
He said several factors contributed to the turnaround. He cited a concerted, cooperative effort between police and Black Expo officials and the help of faith leaders, who mustered several hundred volunteers to monitor activity on the streets on Friday and Saturday nights.
Relocating the popular celebrity basketball game to the Indiana Convention Center from Conseco Fieldhouse was another positive change, Williams said. That kept attendees under one roof, so fewer young people roamed the streets getting from one venue to another, he said, and it “encouraged more parents to come into the convention center for other events instead of just dropping their kids off.”
“There is no doubt about it that Mayor Ballard and the Police Department did a great job,” Williams said. “We are very, very grateful for the way they stepped up and assured our citizens and visitors safe travel in and around the Downtown.”
In a statement issued Sunday, Ballard said that “thousands of visitors to Downtown Indianapolis this weekend enjoyed events filled with activities for families and children, and they did so in an atmosphere of peace achieved with the tremendous support of our partners.
“I commend the Indiana Black Expo organizers, Summer Celebration participants, Ten Point Coalition and the many officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police for their efforts working together to make the security surrounding this year’s Summer Celebration a success.”