David Marino Jr.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hundreds gather in downtown Phoenix for march against police brutality

PHOENIX – A large crowd marched in a protest against police brutality Friday night in Phoenix, despite pleas from Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton and others to postpone the event because of security concerns.

As the rally began at 8 p.m., there were calls from the protesters to keep the march nonviolent. A multi-racial crowd of a few hundred gathered outside of Phoenix City Hall.

Jarrett Maupin, organizer of the protest, refused to postpone the march, saying the timing was right for the rally, which he said would be peaceful in nature.

The rally was planned days ago as a response to the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Both were African-American men shot dead by police.

Fears for the safety of those attending in Phoenix did not escalate until Thursday night, when a peaceful protest against police brutality in downtown Dallas turned violent when an assailant targeted several police officers with sniper fire.

Five officers were killed and seven others were wounded in the shootings. Two other bystanders were injured in the attack.

According to Dallas police, the man believed to be the shooter said he was angry over Black Lives Matter and had intentionally targeted white police officers in his assault.

He was killed in a confrontation hours later when police deployed a robot to set off a bomb. Officials are investigating if any others were involved in the shooting.

The attack caused fears of violence at the Phoenix protest, resulting in calls for the postponement of the previously scheduled rally by Mayor Stanton, Councilman Sal DiCiccio and others.

Maupin said he had rejected an offer by police officials for a meeting with he and other supporters at a local restaurant, calling it a poor replacement for the rally.

“No one has any intentions of violence,” Maupin said. “This is more about unity than fear.”

Earlier Friday, Arizona officials expressed support for those in Dallas.

“May we always remember sacrifices law enforcement, 1st responders make to keep us safe,” Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety, in a statement, said it is “closely monitoring” the events in Dallas but has determined so far its procedures should remain the same.

“When any event affects the community and law enforcement such as this, we look closely to determine if a change in patrols or procedures are needed to ensure the safety of our troopers and the public,” the statement says. “ At this time, we have not deemed it necessary to change or modify our processes or procedures. As information and facts are gleaned from this crime, we will evaluate it and ensure our policies and procedures protect our troopers and the public as much as possible.
“We want to express our deep care, love and concern for the families of those officers killed and injured in Dallas. We extend our support to the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas community,” the DPS statement says.

Tempe police game officers the option to patrol in pairs, according to a story on azcentral.com .