For the past four decades, I’ve covered the Indiana General Assembly as a reporter and monitored it as a columnist and publisher. What occurred on the House floor and out in the Statehouse hallways last week has been described as a “racial” clash. And I will tell you upfront that while there has been racial tension throughout Indiana’s two centuries of statehood, this is the first time in my memory that it bubbled up so publicly at the Statehouse.
It appears to have begun during a debate about a St. Joseph County school transportation bill with state Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, objecting and then walking off the House floor. State Rep. Vernon Smith of Gary had declared the United States to be a “racist nation.” That was met with booing and catcalls, with Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas stalking off the House floor. Multiple reports described a hallway shouting match between state Reps. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, and Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis.