Militant Journalism

Indianapolis: Protesters take action as system lets another killer cop off the hook

On Nov. 10, special prosecutor Rosemary Khoury announced that the grand jury she led to investigate the killing of Dreasjon Reed did not bring charges against killer cop Dejoure Mercer. Reed’s death was captured on his own Facebook Live stream as well as on security cameras from a nearby business and a library branch. It was part of a killing spree by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, whose officers killed Reed and two others — McHale Rose and Ashlynn Lisby — within eight hours in early May.

Within hours of the announcement, Indy10 Black Lives Matter quickly mobilized. More than 100 people gathered north of the heart of downtown, and took to the streets, occupying several intersections. At one point, after security teams spotted a police Long Range Acoustic Device sound weapon, medical teams handed out earplugs to those who needed protection. IMPD never directly engaged the marchers, even though officers had clearly occupied the city for several days in an attempt to prevent and suppress a rebellion.

Businesses downtown had already boarded up in fear of unrest after the election. Neighboring businesses also boarded up after the police gave them advance notice of the grand jury announcement.

The next night, another 100 protesters took to the streets and marched to the headquarters of IMPD’s Northwest District, where Mercer was assigned when he killed Reed. On the front steps of the precinct, Party for Socialism and Liberation Indianapolis member Chris Dilworth spoke out on the importance of the multinational composition of the crowd that had gathered. “The state tries to divide us so we go against each other. When we come together like this, we can’t be stopped, right? If you study history, anything that’s happened in this country, all policy that’s life-affirming, has been because people fought for it.”

Another march on Nov. 14 repeated the route to the Northwest District. That route took marchers onto 38th Street, a major east-west arterial road through Indianapolis that forms the backbone of some of the most oppressed neighborhoods in the city. The people driving along that road were overwhelmingly supportive of the march, even as it briefly interrupted the normal traffic flow.

Consistent eyewitness testimony: “He did not shoot back”

Earlier on Nov. 14, attorneys for Reed’s family gave a press conference in which they excoriated the presentation given by the Indiana State Police Nov. 10 that, in coordination with the grand jury announcement, gave the veneer of “transparency” from the police who shared the supposed “facts” in the case.

Attorney Fatima Johnson said, “In this case, we know there were at least 10 eyewitnesses, most of whom testified before the grand jury. Their testimony was consistent: Dreasjon was tased, he fell, he was shot while shaking on the ground. He did not shoot back.” State police did not mention the content of eyewitness testimony in their presentation.

Johnson, drawing a comparison to the recent grand jury decision in Louisville that allowed the cops to go free who killed Breonna Taylor as she slept in her bed, asked, “How much more disfavored would Dreasjon be, after he dared to run? After he dared to fall after having electricity pumped through his body? After he dared to move after he was shot? Again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Dejoure Mercer did not stop shooting until Dreasjon stopped moving.”

Swaray Conteh, another attorney for the family, said: “We have looked at the evidence. We are surprised that they even had the audacity to present that evidence to the public. That evidence actually supports the proposition that Officer Mercer should have been indicted.” On Nov. 10, state police refused to identify who shot first, saying that they would have to speculate to do so. Conteh pushed back, saying, “What [the police] told the public is that, after the sixth or the seventh shot, there was crossfire. That means, by the sixth or seventh shot, Dreasjon would have shot at Officer Mercer. That’s a plain indication of who shot first.”

Not one of the eyewitnesses testified that they saw Dreasjon shoot at all. Even if he had, he would have been justified in defending himself.

The struggle continues

A chant went up every time the people were in the streets this week: “Indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” The people knew that the criminal justice system is rotten to the core, and were not placated by an “independent prosecutor” leading the grand jury, when the prosecution’s job is to defend the police.

At the Nov. 14 demonstration, Party for Socialism and Liberation member Timi Aderinwale addressed the crowd, connecting the war on Black America to the war on the poor and working class. Aderinwale spoke about an upcoming demonstration planned by PSL Indianapolis and Indy10 BLM Nov. 18 to protest City-County Councillor Michael-Paul Hart’s Proposal 291, which would criminalize handing out aid to people in need in the city. Te protest will demand not only the defeat of Prop. 291, but to Defund the IMPD, including the recent $7 million the City-County Council added to the IMPD’s already bloated police budget. Protesters will demand that money be used instead to fund people’s needs and not killer cops.

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