IndyCAN E-newsletter, May 2017

In this issue:

En Espanol



Sonia speaks at Monument Circle about her check-in the next day with immigration officials — and what it would mean for her family if she is deported.

National Week of Prophetic Resistance kicked off with A Day Without Immigrants and Workers March

Sonia presents a far-too-common testimony

During the first week of May, people from diverse backgrounds, crossing religious and racial divisions, participated in a series of actions around the country designed to resist the divisive and discriminatory policies of the current administration. The events demonstrated solidarity across the immigrant, economic and racial justice movements.

The Week of Prophetic Resistance was organized by PICO National Network. IndyCAN joined PICO federations around the country for the General Strike on May 1. On that Monday, students, workers, consumers, clergy, congregants, and people of all faiths and races did not go to school or work and did not spend money, demonstrating that our communities make this country what it is.

Locally, IndyCAN and several other organizations organized and united together for a Day Without Immigrants and Workers March, beginning with Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and culminating two miles away at Monument Circle.

At the Circle, speakers like Sonia passionately shared their stories of being an immigrant in the United States and the fear that the current administration forces them to live every day. Sonia was due to check in with immigration officials the day after the rally. Standing on the steps of the monument that day, she didn’t know if she would be separated from her family, including her children, in less than 24 hours.

“My husband works nights,” says Sonia. “For my family, a day without me means my kids would have no one to pick them up from school, to feed them dinner, help them with homework or put them to bed at night.”

IndyCAN Watch hotline launches

Sonia’s testimony is not unlike many others in the city who live in fear of deportation. That’s why IndyCAN launched IndyCAN Watch at the rally.

IndyCAN Watch is a hotline for anyone to call when ICE arrives at the door of their home or work or any time they feel threatened by deportation or experience a traumatic incident with ICE or law enforcement.

When someone calls IndyCAN Watch at (317) 759-9474, trained rapid responders will:

  • arrive at the location within minutes
  • be present with the caller
  • record the incident on video and in writing
  • connect the caller to services
  • begin community action on the caller’s behalf.

IndyCAN has been training rapid responders over the last several months and eventually plans to have more than 125 responders ready to stand with immigrants, because we believe no one should stand alone.


Watch related media coverage

Download wallet cards to keep with you at all times.

Print, cut out and keep these wallet cards with you so that you will have them if you encounter law enforcement or ICE officials. Please share this link with everyone you know!

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Participants in the LIVE FREE Summit share experiences and learn from each other during group discussion.

LIVE FREE Summit & Mayor Hogsett launch initiatives to end mass incarceration and gun violence

On Saturday, May 13, 50 faith leaders, clergy and youth leaders gathered for IndyCAN’s LIVE FREE summit in Indianapolis. During the summit, leaders committed to strategies for ending gun violence and mass incarceration, including getting feedback on Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposal for criminal justice reform.

The summit featured a keynote address by Tristan Wilkerson, director of policy and civic engagement of the LIVE FREE Campaign with the PICO National Network. It’s a campaign led by faith congregations throughout the nation that are committed to ending gun violence and mass incarceration of young people of color.

During the summit, leaders committed to contacting hundreds of people to:

  • Document how their lives have been impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration
  • Encourage them to work alongside Mayor Joe Hogsett to ensure his proposal for criminal justice reform reflects what families need
  • By the end of 2017, the mayor will make final decisions to implement the reform. Many details—including budget, priorities and even the size of the new jail—are still being formed.

Days after the summit, Mayor Hogsett announced the re-instatement of a violence reduction program called Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership (IVRP), modeled after the successful “Operation Ceasefire” program that was piloted in Indianapolis (as well as Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati and California) from the late 1990s until 2004.

What is “Operation Ceasefire?”

Operation Ceasefire was credited with dropping homicide rates by 30 to 60 percent in cities across the nation during its pilot. In Indianapolis specifically, it led to a 30 percent drop in gun violence in less than six months. It is a pillar of IndyCAN’s People’s Agenda to End Mass Incarceration.

The strategy involves community members, law enforcement and social service providers directly engaging people involved in street groups to foster internal social pressure that:

  • Deters violence
  • Offers an “honorable exit” from acts of violence
  • Provides a supported path to leave street life

Learn more

To learn more about Ceasefire and effective strategies to reduce violence, check out IndyCAN’s People’s Agenda to End Mass Incarceration.

Above: Tristan Wilkerson speaks during the LIVE FREE Summit.

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IndyCAN pastor Fr. John McCaslin (right) speaks to representatives from (from left) Senator Donnelly's, Congresswoman Brook's and Congressman Carson's offices about the proposed devastating American Health Care Act. Although invited, Senator Young did not attend nor send a representative. IndyCAN held a Health Care Town Hall in response to elected officials' lack of planning a town hall to speak face-to-face with the people they represent about this critical issue.

Before the Senate decides

What you can do to fight the passing of the American Health Care Act

On Thursday, May 4, the House of Representatives took the first step in stripping health care from 24 million Americans by voting “yes” to the American Health Care Act.

This devastating bill:

  • Raises premiums by 20 percent
  • Allows insurance companies to charge five times more for people over age 50
  • Eliminates protections for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Allows states to opt out of Affordable Care Act protections that prohibit insurers from selling low-quality coverage that doesn’t include basic health care benefits, like hospitalization, mental health services, maternity and newborn care.
  • Guts Medicaid and Medicare through caps and block grants
  • Strips health care from children who depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which will expire this fall if not reauthorized.

To put this in perspective, 1,280,300 Hoosiers are covered through Medicaid alone.

According to Office of the Clerk website, 217 Republicans voted yes, while 20 Republicans and all House Democrats voted no. View the list of the 217 representatives who voted yes to this heartless legislation, a choice many political leaders are saying could likely (and rightfully) cost them their seats in the 2018 election.

IndyCAN is building an army of voices

The bill is now in the hands of the Senate, and there is no identified timeframe for when the vote will occur. In response, IndyCAN has already started its work to communicate with senators and build an army of people who will raise their voices against this legislation.

IndyCAN leaders have followed through on the action plans from their April 20 Health Care Town Hall by meeting with Sen. Todd Young’s state director on May 10 and meeting with Sen. Joe Donnelly’s state director on May 19. In these meetings, IndyCAN leaders asked to meet with the senators directly and extended an invitation to co-host a Town Hall with IndyCAN this summer to learn first-hand how this legislation will affect families directly.

Rev. Juard Barnes, community organizer for IndyCAN, was present at the meetings. Barnes said they told the state directors they hoped the senators would work hard to keep the legislation from passing too quickly.

“We want to make sure our people are taken care of,” Barnes said. “What would happen if they push it through too quickly before people really have a chance to read through the bill and understand its implications?”

Barnes and other IndyCAN leaders have a trip to Washington D.C. planned for May 25, where they plan to meet with both members of the Senate.

Call your senators! Let your voice be heard!

As we wait for the Senate vote, use this opportunity to call Sen. Young and Sen. Donnelly to let them know your concerns. Tell them to save Medicaid and health care for 24 million Americans.

  • Sen. Todd Young – (202) 224-5623
  • Sen. Joe Donnelly – (202) 224-4814
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IndyCAN welcomes newly ordained eleventh Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis

The Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows is passionate about social justice, preventing gun violence

IndyCAN is eager to work alongside the newest bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, The Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows. Bishop Baskerville-Burrows was ordained, consecrated and seated as the eleventh bishop of the diocese the weekend of April 29. IndyCAN was honored to be many among other central Indiana faith leaders at the installation events.

Bishop Baskerville-Burrows comes to Indy most recently from Chicago, where she was Director of Networking for the diocese. It’s a position she describes as a canon of connection. “It’s about bringing people together, connecting folks so they work together more effectively, because they’re joined together in ministry,” she says in a diocesan questions-and-answers video recorded before her election and ordination. “It’s about communicating our story, who we are, why we do what we do, what is the faith that compels us to go out in the world and make a difference.”

In particular, Bishop Baskerville-Burrows is passionate about social justice and preventing gun violence — values at the core of IndyCAN.

She says this passage has been a guiding gospel parable for her:

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

- Matthew 24:31-46

“Affirming, amplifying and encouraging the people of God to speak out and make a difference on social justice issues such as racial and class reconciliation, marriage equality, and gun safety have been part of my life and work for decades,” she says. “In recent years, however, it has been the tragic epidemic of gun violence that affects both urban and rural communities, that has been an area of focus and transformation for the people with whom I serve.”

“Guns are doing enormous damage, wrecking lives,” she says. She recalls a conversation with two priests who recognized that the Episcopal Church in Chicago wasn’t doing enough to combat the problem of gun violence.

Unified, they said, “We need to come together and confess that we have not been present and lament the pain and the carnage, really, and to say that God wants something else for us. So we organized. We said, OK, we can use the amplified voice of the church, to link arms with Episcopalians and people of other faiths and denominations and those with no faith who care about decreasing gun violence.”

You can read more about the Crosswalk to Work program she created as a result on the website created by the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis for the new bishop.

Bishop Baskerville-Burrows has a heart for equality, an understanding of community and a passion for organizing people of faith around a love for humanity. We at IndyCAN are honored to welcome her to the central Indiana community and look forward to her leadership in our collective efforts for racial and economic justice.

At right: IndyCAN Board Co-chair Bethy Puerto has her photo taken with the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, The Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, after her ordination ceremony.

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CTS prepares clergy for these times: Organizing Communities of Prophetic Resistance

IndyCAN is partnering with Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) to bring a weeklong intensive course about community organizing to Indianapolis clergy and lay leaders.

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, director of Clergy Organizing with PICO National Network, will present “Organizing Communities of Prophetic Resistance” June 12 - 16, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CTS. The course will explore basic principles of faith-based organizing and its vital role in building a movement for economic and racial justice.

Clergy and lay leaders who aspire to stand with families facing racial and economic injustice, who seek to better equip congregations for prophetic leadership in the world, should consider attending.

The cost of the course is $340 to audit the master’s-level course or $1,005 to take the course for credit. Register for the course by emailing Matt Schlimgen, CTS Registrar, at You should email your intent to register no later than Friday, May 26.

IndyCAN is offering a limited number of scholarships. Contact Nicole Barnes at for scholarship info.

Clergy symposium and community reception June 15

Whether or not you’re unable to attend the full CTS course offering, plan to attend an IndyCAN Clergy Symposium and Community Reception with Michael-Ray Mathews on June 15 at from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Location and details to follow.

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Four IndyCAN activists attend national youth organizing summit

Four young leaders boarded planes on April 27 to make their way to the Youth Organizing Summit in Washington, D.C. The four leaders – Mercedes Morris, Montez "Ace" Williams, Derris "D." Ross and Ashley Thomas – are all passionate community activists in Indianapolis, and we asked them to represent IndyCAN at the conference.

The Youth Organizing Summit’s website states, “From Civil Rights to the American Revolution, great movements are led by the young. Today, our generation is called to lead, and the wildly high stakes demand we do it together.”

The two-day conference brought together youth leaders from all over the country to:

  • Share and spread local victories
  • Learn from losses
  • Develop a shared strategy for mobilizing young voters and affecting policy change

Thomas said she particularly enjoyed the great connections she made with other organizers at the event.

"Community organizers across the country are influencing major changes," Thomas said. "Even though many of us have never met, we have influenced changes through power in numbers. It was amazing to hear what everyone else is doing in their city and state."

Morris echoed this statement, saying it was interesting to see and hear from people her own age all over the country.

"I was literally surrounded by young individuals that were my age, but they were all fighting for something in their own city," Morris explained. "Being able to [share] with others who knew what it was like was amazing!"

All four young leaders have now returned home, inspired to continue their work with new ideas. In addition to each of them volunteering with IndyCAN:

  • Morris is the founder of DreamTeens Indy
  • Williams is the founder of the ACE Project
  • Ross is the founder of the Ross Foundation
  • Thomas is a community organizer focused on education for another not-for-profit.

Each of these organizations works to provide young people of color with the resources and support they need to lead successful lives.

“I like to call them warriors,” said Juard Barnes, community organizer for IndyCAN, who recruited each of the attendees. “They are leaders in their age group. They are leaders in their individual projects. They’re shining examples of the impact young people can make. We’re so proud of their involvement in this conference and with IndyCAN.”

Photo, from left: Mercedes Morris, Montez "Ace" Williams, Derris "D." Rossand Ashley Thomas represented IndyCAN at the Youth Organizing Summit in April.

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Open position:
Communications director

Know someone who is a master storyteller — someone who's passionate about bringing race and power to the center of the popular agenda?

IndyCAN seeks a dynamic, justice-focused, communications guru and online organizer who can hit the ground running. This is a pivotal role that will shape the moral compass of Indiana and elevate the voice of marginalized people in the public arena.

Forward this job description to everyone you know!

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Major events

Ongoing events

  • Clergy Council, June 1, 10 a.m. Location to be announced.

Clergy, committee, team and board members:
Update your calendars!

The full calendar for 2017 has been updated on the IndyCAN website. Please take a moment and update your own calendar with all important dates. Thank you!


Indianapolis Congregation
Action Network (IndyCAN!)
337 N. Warman Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46222
(317) 759-3370



About IndyCAN. IndyCAN is a non-partisan, multi-faith, multi-ethnic organization and is not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office. IndyCAN works to improve the quality of life for residents of the Indianapolis Region.

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