Those gathered outside the Marion County Prosecutor’s office on September 26 commented on the fresh scent of rain in the air, holding protest placards, one of which asked: “Mears: Who Do You Serve, The People Or The Cops?”
They sought an answer the their question at 12:15 pm when, after entering the building, Pastor Denell Howard asked calmly and politely to meet with Mears, an elected Democrat. The group seemed to expect the same response they received on their last three visits: wait in the atrium outside while the receptionist determines if someone can meet with them.
This time, however, she stated upfront that no one would meet with them and that “the protesters,” made up of Gary Harrell’s community members, religious organizations, advocacy groups, and concerned individuals, would need to wait outside of the building. The actions that followed further affirmed Mears’ response to their question: he serves the cops, not the people.
An excessive response to a simple request
In response to the receptionist’s refusal, clearly pre-authorized by Mears, Howard asked if they could schedule a meeting for the future. The receptionist seemed flustered, responding first that it wasn’t possible to schedule a meeting that day. Howard then asked if they could schedule a meeting another day, but again the receptionist denied the request by the diverse grouping she referred to as a “bunch of protesters.”
Howard switched his line of questioning to ask about the process for scheduling a meeting. Unable to respond, she simply stated she could not explain how to schedule a meeting with the elected official. At that moment, the receptionist came from behind the locked doors and asked the armed police standing outside the waiting area to remove the citizens. The drastically different language used and the direct consultation with the police likely evidenced the direction given by Mears, not to mention the talking points circulating in his office.
The situation escalated quickly, as the cops shouted to the public they had to leave the building. Agitated by the disproportionate response by Mears, those peacefully assembled declined to follow the orders. Those present made comments stating that they did not see the rationale for their attempted expulsion from the building. The group asserted they “simply wanted a dialogue” with their elected official concerning the murder of Gary Harrell and the subsequent paid leave for the perpetrator of said murder, IMPD Officer Douglas Correll. According to public records, Correll made over $93,000 in 2022.
An elderly white security guard named Ray walked into the receptionist area, waving his arms for the group to leave while yelling “OK, that’s enough, everyone out now!” and “I’m tired of having to see you guys!” They did not budge, apparently because their questions remained unanswered, or maybe because they are tired of having to deal with police violence all the time.
Howard asked about scheduling a meeting yet again, to which he was told Mears will not meet with his constituents. Mears’ receptionist stated she could not inform the group how to schedule a meeting. Community supporter Riley Bove, said, “It really shows that this government is not run by and for the people. Our government needs to serve all, over a select few.”
“We’re energized to come back”
The cops started escalating the situation further by yelling at the Pastor and other members of the crowd as they slowly exited the building. It is important to note here, that the only people raising their voices were those of the cops. The cops stated again that there would be no meeting with the prosecutor that day. Outside on the front steps, elder Mmoja Ajabu led a prayer to the group that, upon leaving, seemed not defeated but reinvigorated by what transpired.
“We’re energized,” said Maddie Boyd of ANSWER Indiana. “I think if there are other people willing to stand with the Harrell family and all victims of the IMPD, or anyone outraged by this complete lack of accountability from an elected official, then they should join us.”
Indianapolis Liberation reporters will continue covering future actions that—along with Harrell’s murder—have for the most part been neglected by local media.