A South Bend, Indiana, branch of the NAACP held a press conference Thursday at 6:30 a.m. outside the house of Republican County Councilwoman Amy Drake to protest her criticism of Indiana’s public health bureaucracy. A May 1 press release and social media posts proclaimed the group’s intent to protest outside Drake’s home, where she lives with her husband and seven children.
South Bend NAACP Chairwoman Trina Robinson told The Federalist Wednesday that after internal pushback she decided to switch the “peaceful demonstration” to a press conference, still outside the Drakes’ home at 6:30 a.m. Drake, who has written opinion articles for The Federalist, told The Federalist that holding any demonstrations outside her home is a form of “domestic terrorism” intended to influence her votes by harassing and threatening her family.
Drake cited the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism: “Appearing to be intended to influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion.” She and her husband spent three days before the event calling police, fielding calls from constituents and friends, and making plans to ensure their children’s safety.
“There is no such thing as a peaceful protest in front of a person’s home. Protests in front of homes are designed to intimidate and frighten,” Drake said in a press release.
Robinson told The Federalist the goal of visiting Drake’s home was indeed to put pressure on her and express displeasure at Drake’s public record, since their public comments at city council meetings did not move Drake to vote as the group wants. “The NAACP are not here to make people uncomfortable,” she said this morning on the sidewalk across from the Drakes’ home while a school bus picked up children in the background.
Drake ran for office in 2022, motivated by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s extensive lockdowns and their associated public health fiascos. She has been an integral part of increasing the fundraising and effectiveness of the local Republican Party, bringing in conservative energy, volunteers, and ideas. That has made her a top target of local Democrats and the public health bureaucracy.
South Bend is where Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was mayor from 2012 to 2020. Buttigieg’s parents were professors at Notre Dame University.
The demonstration fits a pattern of confrontational political actions against conservatives and Republicans, including mob action in the state capitols of Tennessee, Texas, Montana, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Oklahoma, and Missouri. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told The Wall Street Journal this week that the five constitutional justices remain under constant threat of assassination.
Robinson says she considers showing up at a public official’s home a form of “free speech” and said local police told her the group could show up at Drake’s home so long as they stayed on the sidewalk. Drake says she asked for police presence to ensure everyone’s safety and was told they might send an unmarked car. On Thursday morning, Drake said she couldn’t see any police outside as the press conference commenced.
The Saint Joseph County Police Department’s communications officer did not respond to two voicemails requesting comment Wednesday. Sheriff William Redman’s official bio says he is a “Westside Democratic Club Lifetime Member.”
According to a live-streamed video on Facebook, about 10 people showed up to support the South Bend demonstration. Two were black, including Robinson, and eight were white. One appeared to be local Democrat Party Vice Chairman Don Westerhausen, according to on-site sources. The demonstrators held signs stating: “Amy Drake voted no $$$ for -behavioral crisis center -Motels4Now -Portage Manor,” “Lead Testing Protects Children,” and “We Support Opioid Crisis Relief Funding.”
Jonah Bryson, associate press secretary for the national NAACP organization, took The Federalist’s comment request at 3 p.m. ET Wednesday but failed to return comment on whether NAACP as an organization supports demonstrations outside politicians’ homes.
With her toddler grandson’s coos in the background, Robinson explained to The Federalist on Wednesday her thinking behind demonstrating outside Drake’s home.
“When you take on responsibilities to be a leader of a community, sometimes people are not going to agree with you. That pretty much comes with the territory,” Robinson said. “We’re not wanting to disrupt her children or anything, we would never disrupt her family.”
When asked whether Robinson was aware that Drake and her husband were alarmed for their children’s safety and they’d said so publicly on Facebook, Robinson said she was not: “I am not friends with her on Facebook.” Robinson also emphatically denied any desire to provoke violence, saying she was concerned the Drakes might respond to the demonstration outside their home with violence.
“Just because people disagree with you doesn’t necessarily mean they come to do bodily harm,” Robinson said.
Drake told The Federalist she and her husband decided against any kind of counter-demonstration to avoid “escalating.” They also adamantly opposed violence of any kind. But they considered the local activists’ decision to personalize politics by showing up at their home at the time their children go to school to be an act of hostility.
The Federalist asked Robinson about that several times. She said protesting on a public sidewalk is an American right, and that people in South Bend have protested at local representatives’ homes before.
“This isn’t Germany, this isn’t Russia,” she said. “We’re Americans, we can speak out. That’s a right we have.”
Robinson then directed her focus to the desperation she and others feel at many South Bend residents’ tragic conditions. Like many other American cities, South Bend has highly visible homeless, generational poverty, and drug problems.
For years, visitors and residents have seen shocking scenes on the many emaciated streets of South Bend, common to cities across the United States. Trillions of taxpayer and private dollars poured into these problems since the 1950s have not improved conditions in most cities. In many cities, things are worse: dirtier, filled with even more homeless people and addicts, more violent, and uglier.
Robinson equated Drake’s opposition to expanding ineffective government bureaucracy with leaving desperate citizens without the resources to make better lives.
“You can’t say you oppose a mental health crisis unit when here in South Bend a man in a mental health crisis was gunned down in front of his mom. And we don’t need a mental health crisis unit?” Robinson said. “We have homeless in this town. If you don’t have another solution for them, why are you opposing them being where they are? At least they’re not on the street downtown in tents.”
When asked if she had ever talked with Drake about these concerns one on one, Robinson replied: “No, we haven’t had a conversation. I spoke at the council meetings. She has never come up to me. I haven’t approached her either, so that goes both ways. So we’re both to blame for that. I’ll take responsibility for that.”
Robinson said she would be willing to go out to lunch or coffee with Drake. She invited Drake to call her and said if Drake didn’t want to do that, she’d call Drake.
When The Federalist asked Drake her response, she discussed it with her husband and sent back this via text: “[Robinson] needs to admit domestic terrorism is wrong. She needs to apologize for creating fear in my family and causing us to interrupt our lives to put protective measures in place. After a month cooling off period, we can have a civil discussion.”