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On July 12, the Indianapolis City-County Council overwhelmingly voted “yes” on an additional $1.3 million for the IMPD. Community members who showed up to participate in the public comment period were subject to racist, sexist, and transphobic treatment by the council at large, and by Council President Vop Osili in particular.
Indy10 organizer Kyra Jay was forcibly removed from the podium for the “severe crime” of using a curse word during her statement. For council President Vop Osili, who had up to this point sat quietly through several racist, pro-police comments, this was a step too far.
“You are no better than the people that you call criminals,” Jay said. “You keep locking them up, and they keep getting out and they keep doing the same thing because they don’t have nowhere to go, they don’t have no resources. Try something else. What the hell y’all gonna do when these people can’t feed themselves? There is a global pandemic – crime has been up because people can’t feed their family. And you guys don’t even give a fuck.”
As Jay made her statement, Osili interrupted her, shaking his head and gesturing for one of the many police officers in the room to remove her. Those in line to comment moved forward but were swiftly blocked by additional officers. Organizers with Indy10 sitting in the audience rose to their feet, leading the crowd in an impromptu chant of “Take it to the streets, defund the police! No justice, no peace!”
Indy10 was then forced out of the public meeting by no less than 10 armed officers. As they gathered in the hall outside the public meeting room, officers declared that they were now considered trespassers, and were to be arrested if they did not immediately leave the city-county building, a building built and paid for by the workers of Indianapolis.
This was the most egregious treatment of those in attendance, but the depths of the council’s disrespect for their supposed constituents cannot be overstated. Party for Socialism and Liberation organizer Connie Thompson gave a passionate statement in opposition to the proposed funding, in which she candidly shared her experience with IMPD as a trans woman.
“I have faced transphobia by IMPD officers who look just like the ones who are in this room,” Thompson said. “I have had transphobic slurs used against me. And you want to fund that? You want to give more money to that?”
As she finished her statement, Osili said “thank you, sir,” a blatantly transphobic dismissal.
The City-County Council is well-practiced in dismissing the voices of the working class. Despite the pretty words from elected Democrats in the wake of 2020’s mass uprisings against police violence, nothing has fundamentally changed. This is the second time the majority Democrat council has voted for increased police funding since the 2020 uprisings, deliberately ignoring the community’s cry to defund IMPD. Though the council made some performative gestures toward racial justice, including a street mural, there has been no real change from establishment politicians, who are content with the status quo.
Doris Jones, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, outlined the reason for this constant dismissal during a rally an hour before the council meeting began.
“We are in a class war. The councillors up in the City-County Building tonight exist not to represent working people like us, but to represent the corporate board of Eli Lilly. They exist to represent Salesforce. To represent the Colts and the Pacers. These big businesses have a voice that makes councillors’ ears perk up. We can only make our voices heard in the same way by organizing.”