A wide coalition of Indianapolis African-American leaders and institutions has issued a strong response to IMPD’s investigation into the beating of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson. Spearheaded by the Baptist Ministers Alliance, community leaders called for the firing of all officers involved in the beating incident, a civilian oversight of Internal Affairs, Federal Monitoring of the IMPD and that IMPD’s training be “reevaluated, revised and replaced”. The full text of the response is below.
STATEMENT FROM INDIANAPOLISBAPTIST MINISTERS ALLIANCE
Dr. Stephen J. Clay, President, June 11, 2010
Today I’m joined by Pastors, Lawyers, Funeral Directors, Business Owners and other Community Leaders to express our outrage at the determination reached by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Internal Affairs Unit.
For the sake of extreme clarity, I want to say that crime in Indianapolis is not a Black issue. It’s an issue in every community. You don’t have a zip code that exempts you from the potentiality of crime. I also want to make clear that my comments today are not directed at all the fine men and women who serve on the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, both black and white. My observations are directed solely at those officers who tarnish the labor of those who place their lives on the line for this community every day.
Several days ago, the Marion County Prosecutor determined that Brandon Johnson committed no actionable crime. Specifically, the Marion County Prosecutor stated that Brandon’s conduct on May 16, did not meet the burden for criminal charges. Indeed, Brandon is not a criminal, Brandon is the victim.
Regrettably, the Chief of Police reported yesterday that only one officer would be terminated. It is clear to us, based off the narrative shared, that these officers acted as a team and as a result they are all culpable. It is unequivocal that all police officers involved in this case should be terminated immediately and a criminal investigation should be launched immediately into the conduct of these officers.
Moreover, it is clear that the police department lacks the internal capacity to “police” its own, especially in matters where the general public is involved. The internal affairs process has no credibility in this community. As a result we call for the complete dismantling of the IMPD internal affairs unit and demand that it be replaced with a transparent citizens’ review process to specially address those cases where members of the civilian community are the center of an investigation.
We will also request that the Federal Government monitor this process. It is clear to most in the African-American community that some officers on IMPD think that it is open season on African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color and the poor in Indianapolis. As leaders in this community, we will not tolerate abusive force by the police upon our children in particular, or anyone for that mater.
We will not standby and have the youth of our community beaten by drug dealers, gang bangers or the police. It is obvious that the training of IMPD officers is so profoundly inadequate that the entire process needs to be reevaluated, revised and replaced. It’s apparent that some officers lack the judgment to apply the appropriate response in many circumstances.
The action taken yesterday by the Internal Affairs Unit makes these officers think they can act with impunity. It sends the signal that you can beat a Black, a Latino and anyone of color or a poor citizen nearly beyond recognition and get away with it.
Well, this community will not stand by and watch while our kids become victimized by the criminal conduct of a few rogue officers. We will bring the bright light of justice to these deeds. We will use our collective resources economically and politically, we will dismantle our historic differences to address this issue.
In conclusion, we take note of the Mayor’s silence during this ordeal. His silence speaks volumes. History has proven that in times of crises leaders speak out as well as delegate duties. The Mayor’s brief press release yesterday suggests that he may be more interested in capital improvements than he is about public safety. This fact will be as much a part of his political resume as his surprising mayoral victory was in 2007.
No Justice No Peace!!
Dr. Stephen J. Clay, President