Last year, I drafted an article to reflect on a gathering of over 2,600 Phoenicians at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019. Spurred by recent civil rights violations and police misconduct caught on video, the community came together to share personal experiences and protest police brutality.
With bleeding hearts, we heard first-hand accounts from victims like Edward Brown, paralyzed from the waist down from a police shooting, and Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, the family violently acosted by the police with guns drawn in response to a call about their four-year-old daughter taking a Barbie doll out of a store. Similar to the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death, the alleged violation of the law, did not merit the forceful police response (or the need for any police response at all).
While tightly packed in church pews, we listened to story after story. Emotions were high, but the community kept its poise. People did not show up for vengeance, but for the chance to share their experience, ask for recourse, and receive the answers they’ve been waiting for with regard to the police altercations that led to the death of their loved ones.
Along with first-hand accounts, data shows that officer-involved shootings with Phoenix PD more than doubled in 2018, from averaging 21 per year (years 2009–2017) to 44.
I never published my draft detailing the Pilgrim Rest meeting and the progress we made regarding reform after the meeting seemed slow.
Now, a little over 365 days later, we joined the nation with double-digit days of consecutive protests in June. The protests continue into July with increasing demands for police accountability and a new community-centered definition of public safety.
Arizona deaths following the murder of George Floyd
Following the out-of-state deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, on May 25th, 2020 an Arizona State Trooper killed Dion Johnson after the Trooper found Johnson asleep in his car on the freeway. There is no dashcam or bodycam footage of the incident. An article by Cronkite News states that only 20 out of 1,200 Arizona Department of Public Safety officers have body cameras.