Phoenix, AZ – Widescale outrage over the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black father of two, by a Minneapolis Police Department officer on May 25 spurred people of diverse backgrounds to take to the streets of Phoenix and communities across the nation demanding for an end to police violence against black people. The same day of Floyd’s killing, Dion Johnson — a 28-year-old black man — was shot and killed by an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper, adding to the swell of public outrage. Mass protests have continued to take place daily in response to these and other acts of police violence against communities of color. Chris Amarillas, who brought a large rainbow flag with the message, “Dykes 4 BLM,” drawn on it said, “I am just out here to try and represent the LGBTQ community. I might get emotional talking about it, but queer folks, we owe our lives to black and brown trans women. I think it’s about time we show up, because racism is very rampant in the LGBTQ community.”
On June 3, Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, Poder in Action, and thousands of people gathered in front the Phoenix City Hall to pressure the City Council to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to standing with people of color. The groups called for the Phoenix Police Department to be defunded by 25 percent and to stop collaborating with ICE. They also demanded the City Council fully fund the recently created Office of Accountability and Transparency and to raise $3 million dollars for a fund helping undocumented immigrants, according to a tweet from Poder in Action. “The Phoenix City Council is going to pass a budget that allocates more funds to policing and we don’t think that they should be doing that right now,” said Miriam, an organizer with BLM Metro Phoenix. “We think they should be reallocating those funds to communities.” The event’s organizers want funds in the city’s budget redirected from the PPD to programs like healthcare, mental health services, addiction services, affordable housing, education, youth programs, jobs programs and others.
An analysis in the Arizona Republic found that in 2018 the PPD shot more people than any other city in the country, including L.A. and New York City. In that year, there were 44 shootings by PPD officers resulting in 22 deaths. A disproportionately high number of those shot by police were black or Hispanic. This overrepresentation continues when it comes those who survive being arrested in the state. According to the Prison Policy Institute, Arizona had the eight highest incarceration rate in 2018, at 877 per 100,000. (Echo Magazine – Jeff Kronenfeld at https://echomag.com/mass-movement-confronts-police-violence-and-structural-racism/)