Prosecutor Karen Richards responds to protesters outside Fort Wayne home

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards met with protesters in her driveway Sunday while they demanded she drop charges against hundreds of protesters.

Posted: Jun 28, 2020 8:43 PM
Updated: Jun 29, 2020 9:14 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — The chanting of protesters broke the normal tranquility of a Sunday afternoon in the Historic Forest Park Boulevard neighborhood. 

"Drop the charges. Drop the charges," protesters shouted.

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards responds to protesters outside her Fort Wayne home Sunday. Andy Paras/WFFT

Dozens of people stood in front of the home of Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, demanding she drop charges against the more than 100 protesters arrested in connection to the downtown protests late last month. 

"Don't be a Karen! Don't be a Karen," protesters chanted.

Flanked by two officers, Richards came out to her driveway to meet the crowd and answer their questions.

She said her team still needs three or four weeks to go through all of the videos before they decide whether to drop any of the charges. 

"When you’re talking about a series of days with thousands of hours of video it doesn’t happen overnight," Richards told the crowd. "I am assuming there are going to be people who are going to get their charges dismissed. I assume there are people who are doing things who are going to get arrested."

Richards was asked about one arrest in particular: Taylor Crane, who organized Sunday's protest.

Crane was arrested Friday, the same day he was named in a lawsuit against the city and Allen County Sheriff, on a charge of blocking the roadway last month.  

"That's why people are so upset and that's only one incident," said protester Ben Schoch. "I mean a hundred plus people were arrested so there's a lot of voices to be heard."

Richards argued not everyone who was charged was peaceful, pointing to broken windows and graffiti the first night. 

"I think what you’re assuming is everyone who got arrested did nothing wrong and after reviewing I can already tell you that’s not necessarily true, and there are some things that happened that night that should make all of you uncomfortable," she said. 

Schoch questioned why Crane and others weren't simply given a citation instead of having to spend hours and days in jail. 

That led to an exchange between Richards and others. 

Richards: "If you peacefully stand over there and behave yourself and exercise your first amendment right you have a perfect right."

Protester: "I tried but they tear-gassed me multiple times." 

Richards: "But if you walk into the street and you keep people from walking in the street you're going to get arrested." 

While some neighbors watched the exchange from afar, and others simply went on with their day, a few took issue with protesters bringing the fight to their street. 

"If you want to do this go to the public square," one neighbor told them. 

"We tried that," a protester said. 

Protesters also questioned whether Richards plans on prosecuting any officers for violence against them. Richards said no cases have been brought before her.

She encouraged those with claims to report them to the police department's internal affairs or the city's community review board. 

The talk ended peacefully after nearly an hour but not everyone was satisfied with the answers. 

"She never answered anything very clearly," one protester said later. "One example of that is when she was asked about the 3-year-old child who was attacked by the police and gassed, her immediate response was, 'what were the circumstances?' There are no circumstances where a 3-year-old child deserves to be gassed. None whatsoever.”

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