People speak on deadly officer-involved shooting, police relations at Juneteenth celebration
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On Saturday, amidst the dancing, singing and other activities at a local Indiana Black Expo Juneteenth celebration, people showed they’re ready to confront problems following a fatal police-involved shooting.
Since last Sunday, the family and supporters of Eric Logan, 54, have hosted a memorial and a rally. Community members have asked questions to Mayor Pete Buttigieg and South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski about department policies and disciplinary records of officers involved in Sunday’s incident.
“We’re at a crossroads in South Bend right now,” said Gladys Muhammed, who lives in South Bend.
The South Bend chapter of Indiana Black Expo hosted its 20th annual Juneteenth celebration at LaSalle Park on Saturday. The celebration commemorates June 19, 1865, which marks the end of slavery in the United States and the beginning of freedom for Black Americans.
Muhammed said she was happy to see the camaraderie on Saturday and that it gives her confidence that South Bend’s black community can find solutions to their problems.
“We have to look at what went wrong and make sure that it never happens again,” she said.
Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, who the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office claimed is the officer who shot Logan, claims Logan approached him with a knife while checking on a suspicious person call at West William Street near Colfax Avenue. O’Neill claims Logan was half-way inside a car when he approached him.
However, the body camera O’Neill was wearing was not activated at the time of the shooting, according to the prosecutor’s office. The fact the body camera was not activated has raised concerns within the community.
“I don’t know what happened,” said one woman who attended Saturday’s event. “It’s just a real tragedy and I am very sorry to know about it.”
Incoming District 2 Common Councilman Henry Davis Jr. said it is important to acknowledge what happened last Sunday. He said the community has to make sure that justice is served for the family.
“We also need to make sure we look at the other side there is an officer and a family that’s impacted as well,” Davis said.
At the celebration on Saturday, Christina Brooks, director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Mayor’s Office, read a proclamation signed by Mayor Buttigieg. According to the proclamation, the African American community has made a significant contribution in order to better the city.
The South Bend Chapter of the Indiana Black Expo has brought Juneteenth celebrations to the city for the past 20 years. This year, South Bend IBE President Ray Davis admitted the events of the past week have cast a shadow over the event.
However, he said it would not let the organization’s hard work go overlooked.
“We still have good positive things that are going on in spite of the things that are happening negative things that are happening in our community,” Davis said.