The following statement was written for and delivered at the October 28, 2023 Justice for Gary Harrell rally.
In solidarity with the Harrell Family, Indianapolis Liberation Center, and the ANSWER Coalition, we grieve the death of Gary Harrell, who should still be alive and in our community. Over the last two years, we have been organizing around the vision of re-imagining public safety; part of that vision is ending police violence and excessive use of force.
Despite successfully organizing in 2020 to win a new use of force policy, the department has continued to demonstrate excessive use of force. At this moment, in particular, we are bearing witness to a dangerous trend of police action shootings—one of the worst in the department’s history.
There is fear, mistrust, and anger in the community, and IMPD has abdicated its authority and trust to reconcile those feelings. This department must function differently now. The officer who shot and killed Gary Harrell needs to be recommended for termination by the merit board immediately.
We will continue to push the Department of Justice to do an extensive investigation into IMPD and uncover what we know to be true: a culture that, despite rigorous training and policy standards, refuses to follow these standards with little expectation of accountability for doing so.
We recognize that the FOP union* contract, which is up for renewal next year, will serve as a major inflection point for what time law enforcement apparatus will exist in Indianapolis these next few years. We intend to leverage our collective power to ensure the future of this department functions with the accountability and transparency that the community deserves.
* Editorial note:
The “FOP” stands for “Fraternal Order of Police.” We want to clarify for our readers that the FOP, along with other state associations like the National Border Patrol Council, are unions in the sense that they work for and bargain with an employer (the city, state, or federal government). However, they do not fall under the same umbrella as regular worker unions and, in fact, have diametrically opposed interests.