Open Collective
Open Collective
Say NO! to Proposition 256
Published on August 17, 2022 by Jacq

Proposition 256
Indianapolis’ City County Council Proposal 256 aims to regulate aid distribution. Individuals or organizations distributing food or goods to more than 10 people in need will be required to register with the Office of Public Health & Safety or be confined to two designated distribution sites identified by the city. Failure to register or use one of the two designated sites could result in monetary fines of $250-$500. The ordinance creates a pathway for anyone to document litter following aid distribution, pointing blame at any one of the many organizations or churches doing important aid distribution in the city. Three reports of littering or one incident involving police that are allegedly tied to one of these organizations or churches could result in revocation of registration lasting an entire year.

Prop 256 is Democrat led, though it is a near copy of a Republican led proposal in 2020 that was vehemently opposed by the community and Indianapolis Democrats at the time. 

Circle City Mutual Aid, in over a year of weekly aid distribution, have never experienced a violent incident. Additionally, we provide our own trash bags and trash pickers to keep our public spaces cleaner than when we arrived.

Impact & Analysis 
Prop 256 will create a bottleneck for individuals, churches, and grassroots organizations aiming to distribute food and goods to some of the most vulnerable and abandoned residents in our city, the poor and unhoused. Registration will put mutual aid groups on law enforcement’s radar- subjecting participants and organizers to increased police surveillance and violence, creating a hostile and unwelcome environment for aid distribution, and leaving mutual aid groups’ ability to distribute at the discretion of law enforcement.

Decentralized aid distribution aims to meet people where they are and tries to meet the needs of our poor and unhoused neighbors that the city fails to. Circle City Mutual Aid (CCMA) chose our location due to the number of people already spending their time at the public park, next to a bus stop, and across from a public library. Moving locations would mean the majority of our participants would no longer be able to attend, and registering would create red tape that takes away from our aid efforts. Further, this proposition will deter collective care and relief during disasters when time to register and gain approval before helping our neighbors could be a matter of life or death. 

Our Response
CCMA joined with several other mutual aid organizations to form a coalition to protect our right to support each other and our neighbors and to condemn the city’s attempt to criminalize the poor. 
  • On July 10, Indianapolis’ local PSL chapter circulated a petition to stop the proposal
  • On July 11 we rallied inside and outside the City County Council meeting where the proposal would first be heard.
  • On July 13, we collectively released a Joint Statement with demands.
Our collective efforts led to the postponement of Prop 256 until the Public Safety + Criminal Justice Committee meeting on Aug 24th @ 5:30pm 

Next Steps
In the weeks leading up to the CCC committee meeting on Aug 24, we will be collecting stories and testimonies from participants and organizers about the impact this proposal could have on aid distribution. Here is what some of our neighbors have said so far. 

We plan to share these stories at the committee meeting during public testimony, for those who cannot attend or do not feel safe attending. 

CCMA will also be rallying outside the City-County building on Aug 24 at Lugar Plaza with a mutual aid pop up to share resources with the community and spread the word on how this proposition impacts us all. Others will be providing a hot meal: BBQ, mac, and greens! 

To join our efforts in challenging this proposal please:
We appreciate your support!

We take care of us! We take care of our city!

We will not stop supporting each other and our unhoused neighbors.
Say NO! to Prop 256 ~ Say YES! to Community Care.

In Solidarity,
Circle City Mutual Aid