IndyCAN E-newsletter, September 2017

In this issue:

En Espanol


Pictured above: Indianapolis Catholic Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and Indianapolis Episcopal Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows share a laugh at the Aug. 30 Families First Budget Action event, where they spoke to 350 attendees about the need for the federal budget to reflect God's dream.

IndyCAN demands that national budget act on God’s dream of human dignity

10,000 IndyCAN voices will move public agenda for Families First!

Rhonda Malone (pictured at right) stood before 350 people at the Aug. 30 Families First Budget Action meeting and recounted her childhood experience with being “an other.”

A vision impairment carried her through years of being shunned by classmates and, worse, by her teachers. “They were directly, bluntly, humiliatingly demeaning,” Malone said. “I was an ‘other.’ A ‘less-than’ other.”

She has never forgotten what it was like to be separated, belittled and taught about all the things she couldn’t do.

Her vision improved over time, and, years later, on this stage, she asked the audience who gathered before her: “Why are you here?”

“We could have been doing what we’re doing a lot lately,” she said, “yelling at the TV or yelling about the latest tweet, the latest round of hate speech. We could have spent a sleepless night worrying about our future. We could have felt helpless, hopeless, lost. But we came here.”

Malone was among several speakers who shared their stories of struggle, strain and stress that our society has put upon those deemed as “others” — the marginalized, the immigrants, the people of color, the poor. Maira Bordonable (pictured at right) spoke of her four and a half months in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, awaiting her unlawful deportation to Mexico. Ed Ball told of his experience being wrongly accused of attempted murder, arrested without proof because of the color of his skin.

Powerful faith leaders call for the budget to reflect God’s dream:
Families first.

Two of the most powerful faith leaders in our state — Catholic Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and Episcopal Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows — spoke passionately about God’s plan for His people.

“The quality and character of a nation is not so much its military power or its financial budget, but it’s the way we treat our own,” said Archbishop Thompson. He pointed out that the proposed national budget goes against three key Catholic social principles:

  1. There is inherent dignity in every human being, because we are all created in the image of God.
  2. We are called to family, community and participation under God’s example of mercy, compassion, understanding, communication and respect.
  3. We stand in solidarity.

“Sometimes we’re so passionate about what we’re against that we forget what we are for,” said Archbishop Thompson. “We’re for family, the dignity of persons, for unity, for love.”

The proposed federal budget does not speak to those core values.

Bishop Baskerville-Burrows echoed similar truths. “God’s dream is families first!” she said. “Putting families first means that we don’t exile our brothers and sisters in the midst of us, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on deportation and billions to build a wall. It doesn’t mean we abandon the Affordable Care Act, slash Medicare and Medicaid that provides health care for the most vulnerable — because God’s dream is about families first. God’s dream is that families will stay united and thrive.”

“We need — we deserve — a budget and a country that supports this dream. And we need it now,” she concluded.

Call to Action

IndyCAN called on Senators Todd Young and Joe Donnelly, and Representatives Andre Carson and Susan Brooks, to commit to voting for a budget that puts families first, resisting any effort to sabotage health care, deport millions of immigrants and criminalize people of color.

Representatives were present from the offices of Sen. Donnelly and Rep. Brooks, and they committed to take the message back to their elected official.

“Some of our elected officials chose not to be with us here tonight,” said Rev. Derrick Slack, referencing the absence of Rep. Carson and Sen. Young. “A strong democracy is built on a strong relationship between public officials and those who voted them into office. Tonight, we commit to building a never-before-seen army of voters!”

The 350 IndyCAN leaders in attendance committed to fight. As a united force, we will engage 10,000 people across Indiana to set a Families First policy agenda in the state. We’re moving an agenda forward.

“We have come together in solidarity to form an indivisible, powerful force,” said Malone “Look at what IndyCAN has already accomplished. Consider what we can do as we grow in numbers and in voice!”

IndyCAN holds vigil before Cassidy-Graham bill vote

Since the Aug. 30 Budget Action meeting, Congress announced an impending vote on the Cassidy-Graham bill, a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act before Sept. 30. IndyCAN responded by holding a prayer vigil on Sept. 20 outside of Sen. Young’s district office, inviting families at risk of losing their health coverage to share testimonies and ask Sen. Young to reject the bill.

If the Cassidy-Graham bill passes, more than 1 million people in Indiana who are covered by Medicaid would lose their insurance, including children, low-wage workers, veterans, people with disabilities and seniors. It would also discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and eliminate the help Hoosiers receive to buy insurance.

Photo credit (all photos): Corie Farnsley, CorComm Creative

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DACA Repeal is Hate Policy

IndyCAN calls on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act

Pictured below: "Let the Dreamers stay!" Protestors stand in solidarity with Dreamers at IndyCAN's Sept. 9 DACA prayer vigil, prior to the Trump Administration's decision to expire the program. Photo credit:

On Sept. 15, 2017, President Trump’s administration announced its senseless plan to expire the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on March 5, 2018, leaving nearly 800,000 undocumented young-adult lives vulnerable to deportation. In the meantime, Congress is tasked with deciding the final fate of the DREAM Act, legislation drafted by both Republicans and Democrats that has failed multiple times to be passed since its first introduction to the Senate in 2001.

Passage of the DREAM Act — an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — is the Dreamer’s last hope. While DACA benefits include a temporary, two-year work authorization, a Social Security number and a driver’s license, the DREAM Act would enable Dreamers to obtain permanent resident status with official green cards if they met certain guidelines.

IndyCAN, faith leaders and public opinion stand with the Dreamers!

“Ending this program and rescinding the legal status of nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants is unjust and potentially endangers their lives,” said the Most Rev. Charles C. Thompson, Archbishop of Indianapolis. “I urge President Trump not to turn our nation’s back on these young people and to instead work with Congress on comprehensive immigration reform that is just and respects the God-given dignity of these vulnerable youths and immigrants.”

The night of the announcement, immigrants and faith leaders gathered with Dreamers at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Indianapolis to denounce the end of DACA. The 200 attendees expressed support for Dreamers and their family members who have immigrated to the U.S., seeking better opportunities and safer living conditions. What’s more, this is a position supported by 58 percent of voters who think Dreamers should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements. Read more about this event.

IndyCAN identifies two needed actions for public officials

Dreamer support goes across party lines, and it’s time to lift our voices so we can’t be ignored.

IndyCAN asks members of Congress to:

  1. Pass the DREAM Act. It’s time for Congress to put aside partisan politics, and pass a clean version of the DREAM Act that will do what it was intended to do — give Dreamers a clear pathway to citizenship.
  2. End hate policy. Hate policy continues in Indiana, affecting families and young students. Since President Trump’s inauguration, local ICE detainers have increased by 240 percent. Although Marion County Sheriff John Layton filed an injunction with the American Civil Liberties Union in July 2017 to end ICE detainers without probable cause, IndyCAN continues to see local immigrant families affected by unlawful ICE detainers through its IndyCAN Watch program. In addition to losing their DACA benefits, young-adult immigrants in Indiana are not allowed to receive in-state tuition and now face fear on school campuses due to a proposed bill from Republican Sens. Mike Young and Mike Delph. This bill would require colleges and universities to hand over illegal immigrant students or risk losing state and/or federal funding.

Take Action!

Call your congressional leaders. Tell them to keep families together by supporting the passage of the DREAM Act and end hate policy for good.

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks – (202) 225-2276
  • Senator Joe Donnelly – (202) 224-4814
  • Senator Todd Young – (202) 224-5623

Sign up to be a Rapid Responder. IndyCAN Watch is a phone hotline for individuals to call if they are confronted by ICE or traumatized by local law enforcement. Rapid Responders receive special training to respond to these calls by providing immediate, on-site support to the callers and their families. Sign up today!

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VICTORY: Special prosecutor appointed for Aaron Bailey case

Join IndyCAN on Oct. 24 for celebratory
LIVE FREE Action Event

Your calls, your rallies and your support succeeded in a victory on Aug. 22 for the family of 45-year-old Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man murdered by two officers on June 29 in Indianapolis. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced he had requested St. Joseph County Prosecutor Kenneth Cotter to handle the investigation into Bailey’s death.

“We are very concerned about the perception that could be created if we as an office are simultaneously prosecuting an individual for the shooting death of a public safety officer while at the same time perhaps passing judgment upon the officer-involved shooting of Aaron Bailey,” Curry told the IndyStar.

This turn-of-events is one of the steps IndyCAN leaders and other local advocates asked for to ensure an unbiased investigation, and they hope it will be a step toward justice for the Bailey family. IndyStar reports that no police officer has ever been charged with a crime in connection with an officer-involved shooting.

Criminal Justice Reform advances in Indiana

With Mayor Joe Hogsett’s involvement, this summer marks major progress in IndyCAN's ‘People's Agenda to End Mass Incarceration,’ as well as its goal to cut Marion County’s incarceration rates in half by 2020.

On July 14, in the weeks following Bailey’s death, Mayor Hogsett vowed that IMPD officers would go through implicit bias training, a program that would help individuals see the biases they carry unconsciously and how it could affect their actions. The training would bring together national experts who have worked with the Department of Justice and community members to create the first program of its kind in the state of Indiana.

On July 24, the Indianapolis’ City-County Council authorized Mayor Hogsett to spend $20 million on the planning and design of a Marion County criminal justice center, including a new robust crisis intervention facility to divert those with mental health and substance abuse issues to treatment, not jail — a goal supported by another new pilot program as well.

On July 31, IMPD, EMS and Eskenazi Health launched a pilot of the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team (MCAT), a program that will partner a police officer, a paramedic and a licensed clinician to provide 24/7 responses to emergency calls dealing with legal, behavioral health, substance abuse and medical crises. The program became active on Aug. 1 in IMPD’s East District, an area with frequent mental and emotional 911 calls and ambulance runs for medical emergencies.

It will take all of us to keep this progress on track!


Join IndyCAN on Oct. 24!

IndyCAN will host a LIVE FREE Youth Action event on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. (Location TBD.) During this event, clergy leaders and youth impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration will celebrate our progress on criminal justice reform, and outline a path forward to keep our youth alive and free!

Register to attend!


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A Clergy Save-the-Date:

Indy to host PICO Prophetic Resistance Summit,
Oct. 23-25

Join more than 500 faith leaders, clergy, tribal leaders and organizers from across the PICO National Network from Oct. 23 to 25 for the PICO Prophetic Resistance Summit at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis (10 S. West Street). The event will organize our nation’s faith communities to stand against white supremacist ideology and policies that promote racial and economic exclusion.

This is an opportunity for faith leaders to draw inspiration from national and local faith voices; reflect on their own leadership; and develop their skills to analyze and organize communities and congregations.

Registration fee: $250.00 (covers hotel lodging and most meals).

Online registration ends Friday, Sept. 22! If you miss this deadline but would still like to attend, please contact Shoshanna Spector, executive director of IndyCAN, at

Can’t make it?

If you can't attend the summit, please plan to attend IndyCAN's LIVE FREE Youth Action event on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. (Location TBD.) During this event, clergy leaders and youth impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration will celebrate our progress on criminal justice reform, and outline a path forward to keep our youth alive and free! Register to attend!

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  • IndyCAN hiring for paid LIVE FREE Fellowship positions. If you haven’t heard, we are still seeking two, passionate LIVE FREE Fellows to work directly with youth impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration. Along with a competitive salary, this four-month position has the potential to turn into a permanent, full-time organizing career for the successful candidate! If you’re street-smart and quick to intervene in a crisis, we want to hear from you! If you know someone who fits this description, please encourage them to apply today!
  • Listen now to the Prophetic Resistance Podcast! You can now listen to a free Prophetic Resistance Podcast on iTunes! The Prophetic Resistance Podcast travels the country to talk to our community of freedom-fighters, justice-seekers and faith leaders. They ask how leaders of faith and moral courage can cultivate prophetic resistance rooted in revolutionary love.
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  • Sept. 28 - Clergy Council at 10 a.m. Register.
  • Oct. 23-25 - Prophetic Resistance Summit. Register by Sept. 22!
  • Oct. 24 - LIVE FREE Youth Action, 6 p.m. Register.
  • Nov. 2 - Strategy Team Meeting, 7 p.m.

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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