Writer / Elisabeth Giffin
“Keep Broad Ripple Safe” became the phrase of the summer in Indianapolis and surrounding areas once multiple incidents of violence in the village rose. The most notable violent incident—the July 5 shootings on Broad Ripple Avenue—caused the phrase to become something more.
The Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) then turned to Internet fundraising site Go Fund Me as a possible aid in its quest to enhance and promote safety measures in the village.
“We wanted to act quickly in response to the July shooting so [we] began crowdsourcing,” Executive Director Brooke Klejnot said.
Indeed, crowdsourcing has become a popular trend for organizations and individuals alike, who use certified sites such as Go Fund Me to produce funds for everything from dream vacations to medical emergencies to improvement projects. For the BRVA, “Keep Broad Ripple Safe” is a campaign seeking to raise funds in order to “enact high impact improvement projects that will improve the environment and restore safety faster.” Such projects include “additional security resources, lighting on the Avenue, common area maintenance and additional security cameras.”
Since Klejnot posted the initiative to Go Fund Me’s site on July 10, the project has garnered just more than 150 shares on social media and received donations from 22 individuals, including Klejnot herself.
With a total of $1,730 raised at press time, however, the project has only received a little more than one-third of its $5,000 goal.
Slow response to the project might reflect the mixed feelings some citizens have towards such implementations. Comments on the project’s official Go Fund Me page highlight citizens’ unease at donating without clear tracking of their money and how exactly it is applied. Others remark that as tax-paying citizens, they should be entitled to protection and safety without having to donate additional funds. Others still believe the bar owners and businesses—whose patrons contribute to much of the Avenue’s congestion and incidents—should be the ones responsible for implementing new measures.
While the negative comments stand out, many supporters of the project left notes with their donations, which are displayed separately in the site’s donation feed. Overall, donors hoped that more initiatives could be taken to improve the area, and added additional suggestions for betterment, such as the introduction of parking permits for local homeowners.
Explanations for a lack of response to the project could also be the result of a lack of publicity. Cori Smyrnis, who has worked at the Egyptian Café for almost seven years, was only vaguely aware of the project, despite following the BRVA on social media.
“I follow the Broad Ripple Village Association on Facebook and had only heard about [the project] being proposed, but never noticed a link or description as to what the funds would go to,” Smyrnis said. *Possible trim
Most publicity since the July mass shooting seemed to focus on broadcasting details of the incident itself and to raising questions as to the future of a more “dangerous” Broad Ripple.
Since the episode, Smyrnis has noticed a change in the number of patrons who are out on the strip in the evenings, and believes the negative media coverage of Broad Ripple has deterred potential new customers from visiting the area. Smyrnis, who is greatly disheartened by this, expressed her wish that things had been handled “more delicately,” in a way that didn’t point blame at the establishments.
“After all, the alleged culprit has been described as underage, and therefore would not have been a patron of any of the businesses,” Smyrnis said, “and should have had no reason to be loitering outside any of the establishments at night.”
Since the shooting, one of the swiftest changes to take place was the closing down of Broad Ripple Avenue after midnight to vehicular traffic. The decision “was based on a recommendation made by the BRVA,” said Klejnot, who noted that “road closures have been used the past few years by IMPD as an emergency tactic to reduce cruising and traffic congestion.”
“By implementing a road closure as a preventative measure, and at peak times of visitation when crowd control is important, we have created a much less congested environment, which has resulted in a much safer environment,” Klejnot said.
However, Smyrnis has noticed that since its initiation, patrons seem to feel pressured to leave the establishments at or around midnight. The Egyptian Café, which remains open until 4 a.m., “used to see a predominant peak in business after customers had to leave the bars,” Smyrnis said, noting that they now “see a drastic drop in business.”
“Customers [are left] feeling as though they are keeping us here late,” Smyrnis said, assuring that this is not the case. She also observed that customers now seem more uneasy about remaining late, “knowing that there will be less people in the area when they go to walk to their cars.” Overall, Smyrnis believes the road blockage has hindered business and created an unwelcome atmosphere.
Others find the street closing to ultimately be a good thing, albeit a hassle. Noelle DuBach, who likes to participate in The Monkey’s Tale’s karaoke events, commented, “Without the use of Broad Ripple Avenue, I have to go well out of my way or navigate confusing backstreets to drive back home after midnight.”
Aside from the vehicle enforcement, DuBach, who considers herself a Monkey’s Tale regular, hasn’t seen much difference in the behavior of patrons or establishment staff.
“Since July, I haven’t personally seen a huge difference in the behavior of my friends at the bar or the bar staff,” DuBach said. “My friends and I already follow certain safety practices, such as leaving at least in pairs whenever possible, and texting each other when we arrive home safely. And the staff at my regular bar, The Monkey’s Tale, always seem alert at the bar and have a presence on the patio.” *Possible trim DuBach also noted that “being a regular helps create a sense of comfort,” whereas patrons less familiar with area establishments might experience a different environment.
DuBach, who was also unaware of the Go Fund Me project, liked the idea of it overall. “My concern with cameras is the sense of a false security, when a camera’s scope would be limited,” she said. “But if there are enough cameras in key areas, it could hopefully deter crime or help catch someone after the fact. Of the two initiatives, I would think increased lighting would make a bigger difference in the long run. The main strip seems well-lit enough in my opinion, but the side streets are anywhere from dim to quite dark, so that is where I think Go Fund Me should focus their attention. An increased presence of cops on side streets would be a good idea, too.”
(The two opposing viewpoints are great, but I think we can consolidate them a little. Probably can eliminate two quotes—I donated my choices.
A little lengthy, but a great story. )
Want to weigh in? Visit gofundme.com/KeepBroadRippleSafe.com to donate or comment, or contact the Broad Ripple Village Association to learn more.