The Arizona Republic

Protesters in Phoenix demand police reform

Group wants funding for nonviolent interventi­ons

- Nienke Onneweer

More than 75 people gathered in downtown Phoenix on Thursday evening to protest recent police killings across the country and call for police reform.

Organizer Jacob Raiford spoke to the gathering, invited attendees to speak and led a small march around the Phoenix City Council chambers. No law enforcemen­t officers were present, although a drone sometimes hovered overhead.

“We’re here to talk about the next step in terms of addressing disproport­ionate treatment against the Black and brown community and the police culture,” Raiford told The Arizona Republic before the event began. “It’s getting people in a specific place, having that dialogue, creating that energy, and channeling that momentum toward ... change.”

Attendee Khadijo Mohamed said the police killing of Daunte Wright in Minneapoli­s on Sunday was heartbreak­ing because it could have been her brother, cousin or boyfriend.

“We’re tired. We’re exhausted,” she said. “When is that change going to happen?”

Raiford is with Neighborho­od-Organized Crisis Assistance Program, or NOCAP, a group that emerged recently with some leadership formerly in

volved in the W.E. Rising Project, which organized dozens of protests against police violence in Phoenix last year.

Organizer Cynthia Garcia said the goal of NOCAP coalition is to divert funding from police to hiring trained personnel like medics and counselors to respond to nonviolent calls, like welfare checks and traffic stops.

Raiford mentioned 17-year-old Anthony Cano, who was shot twice by a Chandler officer in January after being stopped for a light out on his bicycle.

Cano ran from Officer Chase BebakMille­r, dropped a gun while running and reached down to pick it up. After being shot he told the officer he was trying to throw the gun away.

“There shouldn’t have been an officer pointing a gun at a kid who had a bicycle light out,” Garcia said. “So those are the type of calls that we would want someone else to respond to, somebody who’s not armed, who’s not going to pose a threat.”

Megan Sleeper, an attendee carrying a sign that said “Defund the police, defend Black lives,” and “Queer people for Black liberation,” said NOCAP is “the first step toward showing the community that we can do something besides policing.”

Man whose charges were dropped from July protest remains positive

The NOCAP coalition also advocated for attendees to register to speak in two virtual city of Phoenix budgetary meetings happening 10 a.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. April 20. The goal is to ask for surplus budget money to go toward hiring people like counselors instead of toward police.

There is also a letter to sign with 18

demands from the NOCAP coalition, including no police communicat­ion with U.S. Immigratio­n and Customs Enforcemen­t.

For Lee Percy Christian, who was arrested several times last year in Black Lives Matter protests in Phoenix, NOCAP is a step toward the transforma­tive justice he wants to see.

Attending the event was nerve-racking only a day after felony charges against him in relation to a July protest were dropped, but he felt it was necessary.

“I want to move toward accountabi­lity, transparen­cy and rebuilding our communitie­s, our marginaliz­ed communitie­s with resources,” Christian said.

Raiford

2309.

If people continue protesting in Arizona, they may soon face stricter rules. A bill is making its way through the Legislatur­e that would create a new crime called “violent or disorderly assembly” and upgrade several misdemeano­rs into felonies including obstructin­g a road, pointing a laser at an officer, and criminal damage between $250 and $1,000 when committed during such an assembly.

House Bill 2309 has passed the House and has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate Rules Committee still needs to review and approve the bill before it can receive a floor vote in the Senate.

“I feel like we shouldn’t have to be here at the end of the day. We shouldn’t have to have these marches over the past year,” Raiford said. But, he said, after turning the state blue in the November elections with the help of protesting, he believes people can do something historic again.

also denounced House

Bill

 ?? PHOTOS BY NICK OZA/THE REPUBLIC ?? Jacob Raiford speaks to the crowd at the rally against police killings at Cesar Chavez Plaza outside Phoenix City Hall in downtown Phoenix on Thursday. We shouldn’t have to have these marches,” Raiford said.
PHOTOS BY NICK OZA/THE REPUBLIC Jacob Raiford speaks to the crowd at the rally against police killings at Cesar Chavez Plaza outside Phoenix City Hall in downtown Phoenix on Thursday. We shouldn’t have to have these marches,” Raiford said.
 ??  ?? Christophe­r Wall attends the rally with his daughters Imani, 2, and Nia, 5. The protest drew more than 75 attendees.
Christophe­r Wall attends the rally with his daughters Imani, 2, and Nia, 5. The protest drew more than 75 attendees.
 ?? NICK OZA/THE REPUBLIC ?? People of all ages attend the rally against police killings at Cesar Chavez Plaza outside Phoenix City Hall in downtown Phoenix on Thursday.
NICK OZA/THE REPUBLIC People of all ages attend the rally against police killings at Cesar Chavez Plaza outside Phoenix City Hall in downtown Phoenix on Thursday.

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