The police protesters in Phoenix were not street gangs. That was political
The demonstrators, who were charged as street gangsters four months ago in Phoenix, are off the hook for now.
The charge was nothing less than the political persecution of individuals who point to police misconduct and a legal system too eager to join the police.
Maricopa County attorney Allister Adel and Phoenix City manager Ed Zuercher took the right first steps by dropping the charges and reportedly reassigning the officers involved.
But why did it even happen? And why only deal with it after intensive media monitoring? Did the demonstrators really want to be sent to jail for years for just annoying the police?
Unfortunately, we know the answers to these questions.
The prosecutors did not follow the procedure, says Adel
We know that these 17 demonstrators, including three minors, would have faced an uncertain future in a legal and regulatory system in which anything is apparently possible if no one is looking.
Protesters took to the streets on October 17 in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Phoenix police said some of the protesters marched in the street, laid barricades, resisted arrest and threw smoke bombs at them.
And understand that: the demonstrators dared to carry black umbrellas. This was apparently enough for prosecutors to characterize them as infamous gangs like the Crips, Bloods and Hells Angels, according to an ABC 15 investigation.
Prosecutors beat her on charges ranging from conspiracy to aggravated assault, riot, illegal gathering, to assisting a street criminal.
That was undoubtedly wrong. Adel now says her prosecutors did not follow procedures when they brought the charges.
“We are reviewing the evidence to decide what to do next in this case and determine whether further review of other cases related to the protests this summer is warranted,” Adel said in a statement first published by ABC 15 was reported.
No wonder that trust in the system is low
Adel dropped the charges unscathed after the ABC 15 investigation caught national attention. But she can always brush it up – something the defendants’ lawyers hoped to avoid.
What does she intend to reproach the protesters if no one is paying attention?
Public trust in prosecutors and police officers has hit rock bottom in recent years due to too many notorious cases of police brutality against minorities, especially African Americans.
The Phoenix police showed nothing but contempt for the protesters and said all sorts of things that I do not want to repeat here.
Phoenix city manager Zuercher said in a statement that he and Police Chief Jeri Williams are making better demands of the police.
“The more information we learn, the more concerned I get,” said Zürcher. “I believe the majority of Phoenix Police officers do a great job for our community every day. But it is evident that we have ingrained problems in the Phoenix Police Department that need to be addressed. “
“This department will change,” he added. “I demand it. Chef Williams demands it. And the public expects it. “
The willingness to change is not enough
It’s good. But when and how?
Williams, a 32-year-old law enforcement veteran, has been at the top since 2016 and apparently not much has changed, although she is willing to change the department’s culture and be more open with the public about what’s going on inside it. She has been hailed nationwide as one of the few African American police chiefs to lead police reform.
But that is no consolation for people like the October 17 protesters, whose lives have been turned upside down since being charged as gangsters.
And that is certainly no consolation for anyone else who has endured the contempt of the Phoenix cops.
Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and Azcentral. Reach them at 602-444-8606 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter, @ elviadiaz1.