“They can talk all they want:” PSL Indy organizer interviewed on DOJ review of IMPD shootings

Last fall, a new coalition took shape that is centered around the families and communities of recent IMPD shooting victims. The Citizens Concerned About Police Action Shootings Coalition—which includes the families of Gary Harrell, Frederick Davis, other IMPD victims, religious and community leaders like Elder Mmoja Ajabu and Pastor Denell Howard, and PSL Indianapolis—won several significant victories and the community pressure and mobilization against the IMPD’s violence, especially the rapid escalation of the IMPD shooting and killing people in 2023, finally caught the attention of U.S. the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services announced April 16 they will be conducting an independent review and analysis of shootings by IMPD officers. The “independent” review is a collaboration with the National Policing Institute, a non-profit organization the Ford Foundation created and funded exclusively in the 1970s but now receives donations from the state as well as hedge funds, security corporations, corporate charities, and wealthy individuals.

To get the perspectives of local community organizations working against police violence, WRTV interviewed Noah Leininger of PSL Indianapolis.

Fantasy or fact? Historical context of the review

The DOJ’s press release states the investigation came “at the request of IMPD Chief Christopher Bailey.” Last year, the IMPD injured or killed 18 people by shootings alone. In a city where Black people make up around one-third of the population, they made up over 90 percent of the IMPD’s victims in 2023.

“They can talk all they want… ‘hey, we’re going to do this,’ ‘we’re going to change things,'” Leininger told WRTV’s Naja Woods. “But we need to actually see real, practical changes.” This is a sentiment and skepticism shared by many organizations, including the The Citizens Concerned About Police Action Shootings Coalition.

Bailey replaced former-IMPD Chief Randal Taylor, who resigned via a YouTube video on December 15, 2023. As Chief, Taylor oversaw and facilitated a tremendous amount of violence against our city’s people, including the IMPD killing spree between May 6 – 7, 2020 in which they shot and killed three people in eight hours. Leininger was at the spontaneous demonstrations in response to the murders of Dreasjon Reed and McHale Rose throughout early May and the nationwide uprisings against the war on Black America that followed, just as he had previously been at rallies for Eleanor Northington, Aaron Bailey, and other IMPD victims.

The need for real changes instead of rhetorical, symbolic, or toothless trainings and policies, is a sentiment shared by many, including the families of IMPD victims. In a statement released first by the Indianapolis Liberator, the coalition evidenced they harbored no illusions about Taylor’s resignation. They insisted a new Chief doesn’t equate to a change because the function of the police remains the same:

“The problem with policing Indy’s streets will not change because Taylor is stepping down. The government is no longer by the people, nor for the people. It is a government that preys on the people. Taylor stepping down will not solve this systemic problem. Looks like it is on us.”

Watch the full segment below!

Featured photo: Screengrab from WRTV’s interview