- Michele Whitehair
The country may be divided, but organizations in Indianapolis are determined to keep the city, and its people, united.
While President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence were being sworn into office, Indianapolis residents gathered at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument to show a spirit of unity and support. The rally, BELONG Indy, was put on by Christ Church Cathedral.
“This is important because Trump has not shown the proper respect for America and the office of President,” Sue Bowron-White, one of the people at the rally, said.
“There’s been so much divisiveness in our rhetoric in the past year that we need to come together as Hoosiers, as Americans, as people from Indianapolis, to make a better community together,” the Rev. Steve Carlson, of the Christ Church Cathedral, said.
“You belong,” Carlson told many of the speakers after they spoke. “We all belong.”
Numerous heads of organizations spoke, including people representing organizations ranging from Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Indiana’s chapter of ACLU, the Desmond Tutu Center and the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance. The mayor of Indianapolis, Joe Hogsett, also spoke.
“We stand with you,” Jane Henegar, who spoke for the ACLU, told those gathered. She went on to encourage the audience, “Remember what we love about this country and work to make it true.”
Speech topics ranged from what each organization had done worked to do, to encouraging people to take action by calling and emailing lawmakers, to simply encouraging people to support and understand each other.
Hundreds showed up to the nonpartisan rally to show their pride and unity in Indianapolis.
“We are here to hold Trump to the highest standard,” Boowron-White said, and to make sure “that he has the best interest of the American people at heart,” she said.
Members of the ACLU were also in the audience, among them Neil Hudelson, the ACLU’s director of development, and Ann D’Angelo, a volunteer.
“We’re here because it’s important for people to raise their voices, especially in an atmosphere right now, where there’s a lot of questions of what’s coming in the next years,” Hudelson said.
The atmosphere at the monument was one of unity, support and determination — a spirit not even a brief rain could hamper.
“This is incredibly important. People are frightened, and they need to know that the ACLU is here, and that these other organizations are here, and committed to protecting our rights,” D’Angelo said.
D’Angelo was dressed as the Statue of Liberty and was encouraging people to take the “People’s Oath,” with her, with their hands on a copy of the Constitution.
“It’s been really moving to me,” D’Angelo said. As people were taking the oath, they were looking into her eyes. “It’s a very sober moment. People are taking it very seriously and thinking about what they want to commit to.”
Volunteers from Christ Church Cathedral were in the audience to pass out programs. One of the volunteers was Indira Samuels, a member of the church.
“I like being there for people because people have been there for me,” she said.
Samuels also said she wanted people to feel encouraged by the turnout, to know that they had neighbors who felt the same way and would support them.
“Let’s be good Hoosiers,” Carlson said. “Let’s be good neighbors.”