IBLC, GiaQuinta issue statements on disrespectful behavior from Republican members
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) today issued the following statement in response to several Black members being disrespected by Republican legislators as they commented on the discriminatory nature of House Bill 1367:
“The members of the IBLC were elected to serve as a voice for Black and Brown Hoosiers. Today, we fulfilled our duty and spoke up against legislation that could lead to discrimination within the John Glenn School Corporation.
“Republican legislators, however, did not want to hear it and booed, walked out, shouted down our concerns and exhibited aggressive and intimidating behavior.
“Republican legislators continuously author legislation that targets minority communities, but every amendment, every objection, every personal story of racism seems to fall on deaf ears. We cannot claim to be a government by the people, for the people while ignoring the interests of entire communities.
“The blatant disrespect shown by Republicans today is appalling. All legislators, no matter their party, have the right to represent their communities in a professional, non-threatening chamber. The Speaker of the House has an obligation to ensure that legislators maintain decorum and while we appreciate his attempts during session, we must point out it was not enough.
“Last summer, IBLC Chair State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) asked the Speaker to require that all House members participate in racism and implicit bias training to prevent incidents such as this. That request has yet to come to fruition. The behavior shown by the Republican House members only emphasizes the need for this training and we urge the Speaker to establish it as soon as possible.
“We urge the Speaker to take immediate action to rectify the behavior of his fellow legislators before the situation escalates further. We will be offering our own thoughts on possible approaches and solutions to this issue and collaborating with the Speaker as we move forward this legislative session.
“The IBLC stands by our philosophy: now is the time for unity, not further division. Let us come together as a legislature to truly represent all Hoosiers.”
House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) added:
“Being disrespectful in any place, but especially on the House floor, is absolutely unacceptable. This isn't the first time I've heard heckling from the back of the room and I will not stand for this type of behavior.
“House Democrats always reserve the right to speak on bills using their own experience and background to contribute to the conversation. Systemic racism was and still is an ongoing issue in our nation. For House Republicans to boo and jeer at House Democrats who acknowledge that fact is simply shameful.
“We deserve to be heard and treated with respect by all members on the House floor. I was appalled at the lack of decorum I witnessed today and I know Speaker Huston will take a serious look at how his membership behaved and address those actions swiftly.”