What does IMPD Chief Taylor’s resignation mean for the people?

For years, people have mobilized for Randal Taylor to resign from his role as IMPD Chief. As one tactic, during October 2021 we were one of several groups who initiated a petition demanding he resign and, more recently, have protested to demand his firing. As of December 15, we realized our strategy to remove Taylor. At the same time, to frame this as solely a people’s victory would be misleading and debilitating to the police brutality movement.

Instead of facing the public, Taylor announced his resignation in a video posted to the IMPD’s YouTube channel around 3:00 pm on December 15. Since Mayor Joe Hogsett appointed Taylor as Chief at the end of the 2019 calendar year, the people of Indianapolis have continued to suffer from—but just as importantly, have organized against and resisted—police brutality and lynchings.

While Taylor’s resignation is undoubtedly a victory for the people in that we’ve proven to ourselves and others the power we have when we are organized and persistent, such an understanding on its own is insufficient. The way we understand the latest development, then, is of crucial importance.

For years, community groups have called for Randal Taylor’s resignation from his position as IMPD Chief. Led by Indianapolis Liberation Center member-organizations Indy10 Black Lives Matter and PSL Indianapolis, 10 community organizations launched a petition demanding Taylor’s resignation on October 12, 2021, in response to three of his cops brutalizing and arresting Jermaine Vaughn, a Black man, for speaking loudly in public. (One officer, Eric Huxley, pleaded guilty this year to federal civil rights and state felony battery charges). The petition picked up steam later in 2021 after a heroic protester was convicted on two counts of “battery against a public safety official.” In reality, they were protecting people, including young children, from the IMPD who fired expired tear gas canisters at the crowd during the 2020 uprising against racism.

On November 28 and December 5, we were at the Mayor’s office, renewing that call for Hogsett to fire Taylor in a continued demand from the community, unanswered by the city, for the slightest accountability for IMPD. Hogsett refused to engage in democratic dialogue with his constituents both times, despite the alarming spike in the Metro Police’s use of deadly force. According to the IndyStar, 18 people have been injured or killed by police shootings thus far in 2023. In a city where Black people compose around 30 percent of the population, they compose over 90 percent of the victims injured or killed by the IMPD this year.

Hogsett and the City-County Council rewarded this behavior by increasing the IMPD’s already overblown budget to over $300 million.

Framing Taylor’s resignation

How we frame Taylor’s resignation is crucial. Was he a sacrificial lamb, a people’s victory, or will it result in more of the same? From our perspective, the first is likely and the second two are correct. The new grassroots movement that coalesced around familes of IMPD victims has staged weekly protests for months, first targeting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears for his refusal to charge killer cops and, more recently, Hogsett. Moreover, it is significant and politically damaging, that the city’s main newspaper is keeping an updated count of IMPD shootings that kill or injure citizens. Something had to be done and, instead of holding killer cops responsible, it could be that Taylor’s resignation would be the least disruptive and the most satisfying move for public consumption.

At the same time, politics and history progress not as the result of elected leaders but the masses. In the struggle against Taylor, this is a clearly a victory.

In terms of the larger project of eliminating police terror, however, it is only a victory if it helps more people understand that neither Taylor, Hogsett, nor any single individual is responsible for racist and anti-worker police violence. The problems are not individual “bad apples” but the interlocking systems of U.S. capitalism and racism.

Hours before Taylor’s announcement Sarah Nelson reported the IMPD planned to release their first, highly-edited, narrated, and biased video of IMPD officer Connor Finch murdering 31-year-old Dontriell Hood. That is, until Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears filed a court order to block its release. In other words, if it isn’t one appointed or elected leader, another state institution will step in to protect the police from their actions.

Faces change but the system remains: The next steps

It is crucial we frame these developments in a careful way that acknowledges both the power of the people to make change and the limits of “fixing” a system working exactly as intended. The choice is not either reform or revolution, but reforms that are progressive and build a revolutionary movement. In the case of the police, the only acceptable reforms are those that take away their power and funding.

  • We Don’t Need Another Police Chief!
  • We Don’t Need the IMPD!
  • IMPD Officers: Follow Your Chief and Resign!

Further, the IMPD is only one of the two deadly gangs dominating our streets. The Marion County Sheriffs are just as important in maintaining the rule of the developers, politicians, banks, and corporations.

As an immediate action item, we encourage everyone to support a courageous victim of the Sheriffs for his press conference this Thursday, December 21 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm at the Indianapolis Liberation Center. The conference is open to the public and will be the first time his story is told.

Find our more information here.

Featured photo: Jamie and Jazmine Reed, the father and sister of IMPD victim Dreasjon Reed, confront Chief Taylor at a mass protest on May 8, 2020. Credit: Indianapolis Liberator.