Police hope to keep peace at I-69 event - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Police hope to keep peace at I-69 event

By Marianne Lyles
Posted by Mike Mardis

Despite the threat of protests, it's a green light for the groundbreaking of Interstate 69. It will be indoors, surrounded by tight security and invitation-only.

With the ceremony just hours away, it looked a bit different around the Centre Tuesday night.

It looks like a presidential candidate is getting ready to visit, and with strong opposition, there will be a strong law enforcement presence.

Organizers and those in uniform are the only ones getting a sneak peak inside the Centre downtown for Wednesday's I-69 groundbreaking ceremony.

Steve Schaefer, Hoosier Voices Executive Director, said this event is unique.

"It got bigger than we thought it would be," Schaefer said. "It's unlike any other groundbreaking I've been a part of. Usually we only get 20 to 25 people show up. The general public usually doesn't have an interest."

Hoosier Voices, a private advocacy group, has given away most of the tickets. The organizers expect at least 1,200 people to celebrate the major thoroughfare.

But many against the transportation project are expected to show up too.

"Some of the tactics, the sleeping dragon, some of the things they've been doing at Gohmann Asphalt, it's vandalistic," Schaefer said. "But we're just watching out for anything they might be doing."

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams said the protestors have become a threat. 

"Through different sources of information they've made threats against people, against property," Williams said.

Protestors get a spot across the street in a fenced off area. A significant amount of Indiana State Police will be protecting the governor.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Deputies are guarding the building Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Authorities said they hope the morning does not get out of hand.

"My concern tomorrow is that somebody is going to get hurt," Williams said. "We don't want to see anyone get hurt. Our main concern is to protect this facility and protect the people that come down here for this event."

Evansville Police will be on hand because the event is in the city.

Traffic will be restricted at Ninth Street, Walnut Street and Locust Street.

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