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Photo: Protest organizer Tamarria Fernandez speaks to the crowd on July 11. Photo: Indianapolis Liberation Center.
by Ken Rogers
On July 11, protesters gathered outside of the Community “Justice” Center campus on the east side of Indianapolis to bring attention to the state trial of IMPD officer Eric Huxley. Once again, Judge Jose Salinas changed Huxley’s pre-trial conference to avoid the people’s protest and block any spotlight from shining light on his case. These obstructions have and will not dull the anger felt by the workers of Indianapolis who will show up for every trial date to ensure Huxley, who is on administrative leave but remains employed by IMPD, is held accountable for his crimes.
On September 24, 2021, Eric Huxley stomped on, brutalized, and arrested Jermaine Vaughn for the “crime” of talking in a public space. Huxley was aided by two accomplices who still roam the streets with badges, Sgt. Christopher Kibbey and Officer Matthew Shores. Even after body cam footage was released, it took nearly a year for his indictment, and even longer for him to face any real consequences. Huxley has pleaded guilty in his federal trial. Despite showing absolutely no contrition in the false police report he recorded, through his lawyer Huxley says he feels remorse for his actions. In his plea, Huxley confirms the obvious: he knew he was terrorizing Vaughn.
Mass consciousness around IMPD terror
Even though there is currently no mass movement around police brutality in Indianapolis, ANSWER Indiana and allied groups like Indy10 Black Lives Matter, Jesse Brown for Indianapolis, and PSL Indianapolis are organizing protests for every one of Huxley’s hearings. The lack of a mass movement in the streets doesn’t mean there is a lack of consciousness amongst the people. The dozen or so people showed up for the July 11 protest were joined spontaneously by several people walking by. The majority of the cars going in and out of the “justice” campus honked their horns in support, with many rolling down their windows to raise their fists.
Without any trials or protests, cases like those of Vaughn go unnoticed and fade away. Like all U.S. police forces, IMPD is objectively violent and racist, with Black people 3.4 times more likely to be arrested for low level non-violent “crimes.” Vaughn had his charges dropped nearly two weeks after his arrest (although the cops threw him in jail instead of seeking the medical treatment he needed). It is remarkably rare for police to face any consequences for their actions, and only three percent of Indiana cops are held accountable for their racist violence.
We so often hear that the system is broken with no response on how to fix it. If our representatives know the system is broken, why continue to shovel money into the same, repressive “solutions” which have been used for decades? It is working exactly as intended. In 2022, the city of Indianapolis government approved a budget of $1.4 billion with over $300,000 of that allocated to “public safety.” However, especially after 2020, the people have demanded that money be re-allocated to education, housing, healthcare, and food security.
Proof the IMPD lies to protect their own crimes
The police present a completely inverted picture of reality that’s distributed to all of us through the news and entertainment industry and nearly every politician. During the historic 2020 protests against police terror, for example, IMPD Chief Randall Taylor tried to portray the massive protests as divided into two, arguing there were “two protests,” one peaceful and another violent. The cops along with the Indianapolis political establishment insisted that the cops were defending the public from the violent actions of the smaller group.
Throughout that summer, people’s organizations debunked the IMPD’s narrative. We agreed there were two protests, but that the main protest was peaceful and out for justice for IMPD’s victims and the smaller protest that was violent was made up of the IMPD and right-wing vigilante groups.
In February 2021, an independent panel confirmed that the police were lying and the people were telling the truth: the IMPD started the “riots.” The panel, appointed by Mayor Hogsett, found the IMPD arbitrarily declared the lawful assemblies “unlawful” to justify using tear gas against the people. They also confirmed that the police illegally stole medical supplies from protestors before initiating their assault. The report, of course, didn’t tell the whole truth, as evidenced by Indy10 Black Lives Matter’s detailed response.
July 11 protest highlights the injustice of the “justice” system
ANSWER Indiana Co-Coordinator Noah Leininger told the crowd on July 11, “none of the people in the Community ‘Justice’ Center’s jail even deserve to be there.” In the United States there are roughly 3 million people in jail, and if you include other forms of incarceration such as GPS monitoring, that makes about 8 million people. “Despite the US making up only about 5 percent of the world’s population, we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. People are in prison not because they committed any real crimes. Police protect the interest of the elites and not the masses of the people. The only reason we have police in the first place is because of the radically unequal division of those who have and those who don’t,” Leininger continued.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media isn’t covering this case because the same corporations that own the media are the same corporations the cops protect. The uprisings that happened in 2020 could not have happened if not for the countless smaller events like this. Organizers say they will continue organizing regardless of how many people show up because the people are with them.
Prosecutors and judges like Jose Salinas protect police officers as part of their system and understand that it is essential for cops to retain their right to routinely use force on the population. Any legal precedent that checks this right such as the incarceration of officers diminishes their effectiveness in intimidation. Justice is won through political struggle, not by letting the legal process just take its course. Without struggle, district attorneys do not indict or even investigate police brutality. If it wasn’t for the January 2023 rally demanding justice for Herman Whitfield III, the indictments against two of the six IMPD cops responsible for his murder, a partial but significant victory, would have happened.
At the rally, organizer Tamarria Fernandez told those gathered that “it is only when we show up collectively that we can hold the cops accountable!” Community organizers say the July 11 action was one of many that will eventually defund and disarm the IMPD as part of a longer struggle to abolish the police entirely.