After nearly a year of outrage and growing community pressure, an Indianapolis grand jury has finally charged Steven Sanchez and Adam Ahmad, two of the six IMPD officers who lynched Herman Whitfield III on April 25, 2022. The other four cops—Matthew Virt, Nicholas Mathew, Jordan Bull, and Dominique Clark—participated in the assault on Herman but were not parties to the culminating act of the murder, did nothing to prevent their fellow cops from killing Herman III, and made no efforts to save his life. They have so far escaped any charges.
Nonetheless, this is a significant if partial victory. These indictments, which came just before the one-year anniversary of Herman III’s murder, mark the first time Indianapolis’ killer cops faced criminal charges in the last 13 years, when an on-duty cop David Bisard killed a motorcyclist and injured two others as he drove his police cruiser drunk. He served less than four years of his 13-year prison sentence.
The Whitfield family leads community and organizations to build a movement for justice
This victory is primarily attributable to Herman III’s parents, Herman Jr. and Gladys Whitfield, who bravely and boldly stood up to the IMPD and the city. Behind the leadership of the parents, the broader community, and a range of groups and coalitions, such as ANSWER Indiana, the Black Liberation Party, the Indianapolis Liberation Center, Faith in Indiana, Indy10 Black Lives Matter, the CPUSA of Indiana, and PSL Indianapolis, who have histories of organizing against police terror in the city,
Some of the above organizations worked for months to build a movement around this racist act of police terror and provided key support for the January 16, 2023 protest for Justice for Herman Whitfield III, the first rally organized by the movement.
On February 4, 2023, the Party for Socialism and Liberation organized an emergency action in response to the assassination of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis cops that linked Nichols’ murder with Herman III’s to show that the police’s reign of terror against Black communities and oppressed and poor people is a nationwide epidemic and to keep the struggle for justice for Herman III in the news.
When the IMPD was forced to finally release the full unedited bodycam footage of the events the night of April 25 by a Marion County Supreme Court—and after the city government tried to file an injunction—it was clear that these cops electrocuted and suffocated Herman III to death despite his repeated cries of “I can’t breathe!” This exposed the police’s lies and their manipulation of edited bodycam footage to promote their narrative.
Moving from partial to full victory: We are the critical agents!
The struggle against the biggest, best organized, funded, and armed gang in the city—the IMPD—is and must continue to grow.
If you want to be a part of this growing movement, learn more about it, or reactive yourself and your peers, sign up for a weekly newsletter updating the community on the latest developments in this and other people’s struggles.
In order to build a new system that can overthrow capitalism and create real structures of public safety. Only the people organized can create a new and better system.
In the broader movement, the immediate next steps center around three demands that are completely realizable within the current system:
- Jail all Killer Cops!
- Defund the IMPD!
- Disarm the IMPD!
These are steps on the way to achieving our ultimate goal: a new society where we abolish police because we have abolished the private property and white supremacy they serve and protect.
If you want to be a part of that fight that we absolutely can and must win, join us!