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Photo by PSL Indianapolis: Protesters gather outside of the Community “Justice” Center on May 16.
Eric Huxley, a sergeant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom May 15 to using his police power to deprive civil rights in his brutal attack on Jermaine Vaughn in 2021. Vaughn, wearing an Indy 500 sweatshirt in the police bodycam video of the attack, was speaking loudly on Monument Circle when police approached him in 2021. After handcuffing him, one officer pushes Vaughn and tells him to back up while seemingly pulling forward on his belt, causing them both to fall onto the steps of the monument. Seconds later, Huxley stomps on Vaughn’s face while officers shout at Vaughn, “You’re done! You’re done!”
Huxley was scheduled to appear at the Marion County Community “Justice” Center the next day to begin his state trial for multiple felonies. To draw renewed attention to the struggle for justice for Vaughn, Indy10 Black Lives Matter, PSL Indianapolis, the Black Liberation Party, and Jesse for Indy organized a protest to demand Huxley serve time for his crimes. At least partly in response, Judge Jose Salinas (previous President of the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees), made Huxley’s pretrial remote. Despite this move, the protest continued, receiving local news coverage.
As part of Huxley’s federal guilty plea, he acknowledged that he knew “there was no legitimate law enforcement reason to use hard strikes, including foot strikes, against the head or face of a person who is handcuffed, under effective control by other officers, and physically unable to harm others” when he attacked Vaughn. But Huxley is certainly not the only IMPD officer to illegally attack community members. Robert Lawson was found guilty of state felony charges after punching a child outside Shortridge High School in 2019, and Nathaniel Schauwecker and Jonathan Horlock are awaiting trial after groping and then brutally beating two women who were simply walking to their cars in the vicinity of protests during the 2020 uprising against racism—and those are just the ones who have recently faced criminal charges. There are certainly others.
Indiana state law defines “terrorism” as “the unlawful use of force or violence or the unlawful threat of force or violence to intimidate or coerce … all or part of the civilian population” (Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-329). It is not hyperbole to argue that the pattern of behavior by IMPD officers to violently intimidate civilians constitutes terrorism—the existing capitalist law says it is! IMPD terrorizes the people of Indianapolis to protect capitalism, the rule of society by the owning class, and to enforce their racist and patriarchal system of control. This is not an abstract argument or hypothetical. This is the reality of patrons of the public library have outrageously been subjected to heavily armed police by a faction of the library board in an attempt to suppress public engagement in the governance of a public institution.
Trials of terrorist cops like Eric Huxley are rare. Only a handful of IMPD officers have ever been indicted for the crimes they commit against the community, and their trials are always carefully constructed to portray these crimes as aberrant actions by rogue cops, and charges are usually less severe than those thrown at the public. But in reality, these crimes are committed daily by officers as a routine part of their job. The owning class does not like to punish its loyal foot soldiers. Only committed struggle from the community spanning several years has forced prosecutors to pursue these charges.
While we welcome the charges and convictions when they happen, this alone will not address the root issues driving police violence and the War on Black America. It is only through committed struggle that we can move past a system where police terrorize people for speaking loudly in public, sleeping in their grandmother’s driveway, or experiencing a mental health crisis. Replacing police with participatory public safety that engages the community instead of attacking them is a necessary step toward a better world!