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Chief justice calls on Indiana courts to hear 'the voices that cry out in our streets and towns'

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The chief justice of Indiana is calling on state, county and local courts, Hoosier lawyers and law schools to respond to recent racial inequality protests by taking action to improve fairness and justice throughout the state's judicial branch.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush says "there is a disconnect between what we aspire for in our justice system and what we have achieved," and Indiana's court system needs to listen to "the voices that cry out in our streets and towns."

"We must acknowledge and confront the reality that our fellow community members say is their experience. And it is imperative we take action to change that experience — not ignore, justify or disparage it," Rush said.

In her "Statement on Race and Equity," Rush identifies five steps Indiana courts should take to ensure they are not "complicit in perpetuating the bias and inequity that are carved in our nation's history."

They are:

  • Elevating the role of implicit bias training in the legal curriculum and learning about disproportionality and racial disparities in the justice system.
  • Treating victims of biased hatred and racism with dignity when they pursue judicial remedies and holding accountable those who stoke the fires of hatred and racism.
  • Showing fairness and compassion to families affected by poverty and protecting the disadvantaged and vulnerable — not leaving them to fend for themselves and be crushed by the weight and complexity of the legal system.
  • Improving the pathway for more people of color to become lawyers and judges so people see themselves, their experiences and backgrounds reflected in Indiana's bench and bar to foster trust and understanding between the public and the judicial branch.
  • Equitably treating children in the court system, and halting the sometimes more severe punishment meted out to children and families of color, to put all Indiana children on a path toward equality.

"To be sure, the complexities of race in America will not be solved by simply saying we will try to do better," Rush said. "I charge our courts, our justice system partners, our lawyers and our law schools to do so. I demand the same of myself."

"We must listen to and learn from the experiences of our communities who are too often unheard. Heeding their voices will give us the wisdom we need to correct the entrenched disparities that still divide us."

Rush, who lived in Munster as a child, is the first female chief justice of Indiana, and the second woman to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court following former Justice Myra Selby, who also was the first black member of the state's high court.

There currently are no visible minority members of the Supreme Court following the 2017 retirement of Justice Robert Rucker, the second black justice in Indiana and the namesake of the Lake County courthouse in Gary.

Collection: The Region responds to the death of George Floyd

Following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, organizers throughout multiple municipalities in the Region joined with others in rallying against systemic racism.

View stories, photo galleries and videos reported by staff and correspondents from multiple days of protest coverage.

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The protest began Saturday morning outside the Hammond Police Department before moving to the streets. Police formed a blockade at 171st and Calumet to prevent the crowd from moving onto I-80/94.

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Protesters gathered outside the Hammond Police Department Tuesday morning and later marched down the street. Police formed a blockade at 171st…

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Protesters rallying for justice for George Floyd marched and clashed with police on Saturday in Hammond.

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"The comments were not serious in nature and in poor taste. They were meant as a joke to my friend and in no way serious," Chesterton Town Councilman Robert Allision, D-3rd, said in his post.

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Demonstrators protest police brutality throughout the nation with a rally in Hammond. The protesters then marched down Calumet Avenue where th…

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Several businesses were shut down on the Torrence Avenue commercial strip in Calumet City and Lansing.

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Protesters were speaking out about the death of George Floyd in police custody.

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Protesters call for justice for George Floyd, who died in police custody, at a Southlake Mall rally on Sunday.

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Protesters call for justice for George Floyd, who died in police custody, at a Southlake Mall rally on Sunday.

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Protestors call for justice in the death of George Floyd outside Southlake Mall on Sunday.

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Protestors call for justice for George Floyd at a Southlake Mall rally in Hobart on Sunday.

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The Lake County Tactical Unit team arrives at Southlake Mall as the number of protesters has reached more than 300 seeking justice for George …

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Protesters mobilized their rally and have blocked off parts of U.S. 30 near Southlake Mall. Hundreds have gathered to protest racial injustice…

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Protests have spread to Northwest Indiana as national unrest grows.

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Hundreds of protesters stood in a field of tall grass behind the Michigan City Police Station before taking their message of “No justice, no peace” to the streets.

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Hundreds of protesters demand justice behind the Michigan City Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's death while in police custody l…

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As protesters moved from Southlake Mall towards I-65, police used tear gas to try and stop the movement.

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Protesters and police faced off at Southlake Mall and U.S. 30 in Hobart on Sunday.

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Protesters marched in solidarity with Minneapolis on Sunday evening in Michigan City.

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As protesters move throughout Michigan City, one person decided to climb a railroad signal. Protesters are rallying for racial injustice acros…

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Demonstrators have a standoff with police on U.S. 30 by Southlake Mall in Hobart. The peaceful standoff later escalated when police resort to …

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Protesters tried to get into Michigan City's Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets but were turned away by police.

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Purdue Northwest, the School City of Hammond and Gary Community School Corp. are taking preventative measures Monday after protests spread across the Region over the weekend.

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"The Chesterton Town Council does not share these opinions and unequivocally denounces them," according to the prepared statement from members of the Chesterton Town Council.

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Hammond and Calumet City have extended their curfews while businesses clean up after looting.

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"I've cleaned up more glass that I have seen in my life," Cullen Wulf said Monday. "It just hurts."

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Dozens came together at Gateway Park downtown Gary on Monday to spread a message of peace in wake of the death of George Floyd, who died after…

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"We're seeing peaceful protests that start out with a noble cause in mind. Those seeking to right wrongs of the past. ... But we are seeing those peaceful demonstrations get hijacked."

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If necessary, Gary is prepared to take more drastic and restrictive steps to protect public safety, including a curfew, Mayor Jerome Prince said.

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About 200 people were on hand for the start of the rally, including a number of clergy members.

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Dozens came together at Gateway Park downtown Gary on Monday to spread a message of peace in wake of the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. 

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More than 30 young men and women shouted, “no justice, no peace,” and “George Floyd.” They held “I can’t breath” signs and lied down on the sidewalk outside the old Lake County Courthouse.

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The two largely peaceful protests in the Region this weekend could have ended much worse, local officials said.

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Protesters gathered near the Old Lake County Courthouse in Crown Point Monday to rally against racism and the police actions that led to the d…

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In peaceful protest from start to finish, about 60 demonstrators gathered on the Crown Point downtown square Monday afternoon, rallying agains…

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The rumored protest ended up being small and peaceful.

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"Before judging Black people based off our emotional reactions, you must first acknowledge and address the institutional and systemic racism that continues to light that fuse within us."

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Valparaiso resident Mike Garcher, who held a sign that read, "End the violence - Recognize humanity," said, "I do believe everyone has a responsibility to call for a change."

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"Some key Region leaders have shown us in recent days that they understand and are willing to facilitate these rights in person."

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The video, which has been viewed more than 175,000 times on Twitter, shows 21 people standing near the end of the Erie-Lackawanna Trail. Eight of those pictured are holding rifles as the group passes by. 

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In a statement, Bishop Robert J. McClory noted that the Catholic bishops of this country, “like so many of you, are outraged by his tragic death.”

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Please only consider information credible if it is posted on this page or published in the media with the name of a representative from the Gary Police Department and not ‘a source,'" police said. 

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Most businesses at the Shops on Main and Highland Grove shopping centers and along Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville temporarily closed after social media posts suggested a protest against be staged.

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"We will be ready to deploy the cement blocks again within minutes if the situation becomes necessary once again," McDermott said.

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The protest in Hammond began peacefully, but a large group moved into the road after about an hour and blocking traffic in an attempt to access I-80/94, police said.

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Officers began handing out water to the demonstrators, who gathered Wednesday outside the Munster Police Department.

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A group of protesters gathered Wednesday afternoon outside the Police Department, holding signs that read "No justice, no peace" and "Time for…

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Police arrested 10 adults and four juveniles Sunday after a protest near Southlake Mall. The gathering was organized to protest police brutality.

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“Despite all of our efforts and best intentions, we can always do better,” Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy said. 

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GARY — A handful of protesters called on Thursday for police to release more information about the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man last su…

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The family and friends of the late Rashad Cunningham protested outside the Gary Police Department on Thursday.

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"I want people to know what is happening at these protests and to know the entirety of the situation. People need to understand that all lives cannot matter until black lives matter.”

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Griffith police condemn social media posts about Black Lives Matter event planned for Sunday at Central Park.

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A demonstration in Lowell gathered nearly 100 protestors, a group of Invaders and a handful of residents open-carrying AR-15 guns. It ended in prayer, discussion and peace.

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Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez said authorities are constantly monitoring information of possible looting or violent activity.

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Black Lives Matter protesters march through downtown Gary Friday.

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Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside Gary City Hall Friday prior to marching together through downtown. Video by John Luke.

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Dozens of demonstrators rallied Friday at 4th Avenue and Broadway Street in Gary, calling for social justice and more transparency from city officials.

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The man, who has not been named, can be seen in various videos wearing a bright green Pure Illumination, Inc., shirt, following protesters and saying things such as, "You're the wrong color."

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When Indiana football coach Tom Allen saw the video about the tragic death of George Floyd, followed by protests and more violence powered by …

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Organizers gathered outside Munster High School on Friday for a Black Lives Matter rally.

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Upwards of 500 people gathered outside the courthouse then marched up and down the sidewalk of the U.S. 35 overpass with about 70 police officers in the area keeping the peace.

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Fifteen people gathered at the Crown Point skate park in honor of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police earlier this year while asleep in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky.

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“Justice can’t be delayed,” Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said. 

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NWI health care workers joined the national #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives movement in a silent protest Friday morning.

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Despite Cpl. Monte White’s instinct to engage with the woman, he said he kept silent — well aware that his job in that moment was to keep peace. He couldn’t drop his guard due to the intensifying crowd of protesters that stood a few, short feet away. 

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With a global pandemic and now widespread social unrest, it's a been chaotic and challenging time for retailers and small businesses across th…

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Community members marched and rallied together in Whiting on Saturday in solidarity with Minneapolis.

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Rev. Rod Reed leads a gathering of protesters in song on Sunday in Griffith's Central Park. Video by John Luke.

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Hundreds gathered in Griffith for a Black Lives Matter event in which they marched around Central Park and lay in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to pay tribute to George Floyd.

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Demonstrators protest Sunday at Lake Station City Hall.

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The city of Gary is preparing to reexamine the operations of its police department amid nationwide calls for reform.

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A Hobart cop is under internal investigation for inflammatory social media comments regarding race, including police response times to black neighborhoods, the police chief confirmed.

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Chief Wiley Luther Cuttino said Floyd's death is “damaging to the relationship and trust between the public and police,” and he wants to be part of the solution to rebuild a bond with the community.

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A handful of protesters congregated in downtown Griffith Thursday, calling for the closure of a bar that has been at the center of several controversies

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“We just want people to be really thinking about (police brutality), and we want people to be able to educate themselves on the issues that really cause that,” one of the event organizers said.

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More than 200 joined in the student organized "peaceful protest" outside of Lake Central High School.

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She was among the protesters who congregated in downtown Griffith last week, calling for the closure of a bar at the center of several controversies.

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MERRILLVILLE — Voices rang out from Broadway on Friday as marchers walked peacefully through the street in pursuit of change.

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CHESTERTON — Two Chesterton High School teachers brought together 250 to 300 people Friday night to work toward equality for all people.

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Protesters rallying for justice for George Floyd recited names of Black victims as part of their chants on Saturday in Pheasant Hills Park. Vi…

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