As evening began on August 6, family and friends of Gary Harrell gathered with various community groups and members for a vigil on the corner of 34th and Parker Ave. Community leaders called for the vigil about three hours before, just after protesters marched through the Near Eastside streets to protest the IMPD’s latest murder of a Black community member.
Three days before, an IMPD cop gunned Harrell down in cold blood as he walked, or possibly “ran,” from a traffic stop. After pulling him over for allegedly driving “recklessly” the unnamed cop shot Harrell in the back.
The tone of the vigil was somber but determined, mournful but militant. Those who spoke at the event expressed not only their grief about Harrell’s murder, but their resolve to bring the IMPD officer who killed their loved one to justice.
“We gotta get organized!” was the message of one of the vigil’s main organizers, Mmoja Ajabu. “You can’t take on an organized force in an unorganized fashion. This vigil, the tears, the outrage—they are expecting that. We’ve got to do more,” Ajabu added.
Several speakers, including Harrell’s relatives, affirmed their faith that the cop responsible for this injustice would face accountability. At the same time, they emphasized that justice would be served because the community was not going to back down.
The deep sadness at Harrell’s untimely and criminal death was clear in the expressions of everyone present, even those who didn’t know him personally. “These days his favorite thing was just to drive around and listen to his music,” one family member said. “That’s what he liked to do.” That’s all Harrell was doing when he was murdered.
As the vigil concluded it became increasingly apparent that this wasn’t an end, but a pause in the beginning of a struggle to win justice for Gary Harrell and all victims of police brutality and terror.
Rest in Power, Gary Harrell!
Photos: Indianapolis Liberator