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James Briggs, a journalist for the IndyStar says it’s time for downtown Indianapolis business owners to take down their plywood.

“It’s crazy that boards are still up,” Briggs told the Hammer and Nigel Show Monday. “To be two weeks out from the election and not have any real concerted effort from landlords and businesses to start taking that down – I mean, every day that [plywood stays up] is further damage to this city’s reputation.”

Briggs argued that the downtown area “looks like a warzone,” warning that it’s “just not inviting” and will leave a long-lasting impression on peoples’ minds in terms of how they view downtown Indianapolis.


In Briggs’ Sunday Op-Ed, “Let’s Not Board Up Downtown Indianapolis Again,” the columnist stated that “Businesses that have a stake in downtown Indianapolis – whether they are local or headquartered in some other city – need to decide whether they are really invested here. If they are, they can’t board up the city every time there is an election, planned protest, or fear that some news event might cause a spontaneous protest.”

WIBC’s Jason Hammer told Briggs that he would be hesitant to leave downtown businesses vulnerable to an attack or jeopardize his own livelihood just for the sake of maintaining appearances.

Briggs offered the opinion that Hammer was suffering from “recency bias.”

Briggs: “Yes, things got out of hand back in May; nobody can deny that. And you can argue about ‘why’ and what the causes were, but that’s not really the point of my column. But yeah, let’s acknowledge that there was a very recent problem where things got out of hand, and some very real damage was done that is still affecting those businesses. So yes, let’s put that out there and acknowledge that.

“My point, however, is that you can’t get into a posture where you expect that to happen. I mean, like, every now and then a giant tornado will run through and ravage an area. But then, you can’t just expect that every time there is a thunderstorm coming to prepare for a giant tornado. And in Indianapolis’ case, having unrest is an extremely rare occurrence. I mean, this is a city that is famous for being peaceful back in 1968 when Robert F. Kennedy addressed an audience over Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.”


Briggs: “There’s not a lot of historical precedent for what we saw earlier this year, and this is almost no reason to believe that what happened earlier this year is going to keep happening over and over again.”

Briggs: “So if you have a business here [in Indianapolis], your focus should be on that business and not looking out for whatever news event might be that would cause another protest to emerge or an election – like thinking an election is going to cause unrest downtown? I mean that’s just… It’s kind of absurd to me, and if you’re really going to be invested in this city, it seems crazy to have this posture that any kind of news event could start that level of unrest that would start and cause violence and damage to your business.”

WIBC’s Nigel argued that downtown Indianapolis businesses took their cue from the increased police presence in the city in advance of the Grand Jury decision regarding the Dreasjon Reed shooting.


Briggs: “I think it’s [law enforcement’s] job to prepare for that sort of thing, but I don’t think as a community that you can read into that sort of preparation as you’re expecting violence. I mean, like, if the Indiana Pacers are on the cusp of winning the NBA finals, you would probably see an increased police presence just because every time a city comes close to winning a major sports championship, there’s always a threat that things could get out of hand with celebration. So police departments in those cities are always doing that kind of preparation.

“But again, there are these extremely rare news events that do lead to actual property damage for businesses, and I don’t think we should let that the fact that it happened very recently here cause us to think that we’re always on the cusp of this getting out of hand like that. I mean, it happened here; it happened very recently, [and] every now and then it happens in other cities for a variety of complicated reasons, but we can’t get into a position where we expect it to happen. Otherwise, you can’t have a functional city and specifically a functional downtown.”

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Click the link below to hear Hammer and Nigel’s full interview with James Briggs, a columnist for IndyStar.