Protesters Rally at Mesa Police Department: Call For Change

Dozens of protesters gathered outside of the Mesa Police Department headquarters Friday night to protest recent incidents involving use of force by officers.

Members of Black Lives Matter Arizona organized the protest and numerous Mesa residents participated.

After gathering in front of the police headquarters near Main and Robson streets in downtown Mesa, protesters took to the streets, marching down Main Street and over to the city of Mesa City Council Chambers.

The protesters were followed by Mesa police officers on bicycles as officers in SUVs blocked off the road ahead of the crowd.

Jarvis Johnson, a vocal member of Black Lives Matter Arizona, carried an unloaded AR-15 with him as he walked down the middle of the street with the other protesters.

Restaurants full of people with loud, live music were drowned out with the sound of chants from about 35 protesters.

Many were upset with the recent footage released by Mesa police on Tuesday that captured national attention showing an officer repeatedly punching and kneeing a man before he was pulled to the ground while other officers surrounded him on May 23.

The 15-minute video that showed officers shoving 35-year-old Robert Johnson’s head into an elevator door after other officers handcuffed him and zip-tied his feet.

Mesa police released body camera video Wednesday of eight different angles, which provided audio that wasn’t available with the footage released Tuesday, causing Mesa leaders to face a stream of criticism.

Police later released video of another incident involving a 15-year-old robbery suspect who appeared to be roughed up after he was handcuffed.

In all, seven officers have been placed on administrative leave while both incidents are investigated.

“I know what police work is like and I know when something is wrong. I’m really getting the scene that there’s something wrong,” said Anthony Ramirez, a Mesa attorney and a former police officer who joined the protest.

“I think that, although every department has the potential to manifest this ‘blue verses you’ mentality, I think that it’s very much the exception and not the rule,” Ramirez said. “People generally become police officers to protect and serve, but I think that there’s a cancer and it needs to be addressed.”

Along with the footage of Johnson’s arrest, another man claimed Mesa police used excessive force in a 2017 arrest in a news conference on Wednesday. Terence Kirkpatrick, a 30-year-old black man said that Mesa police officers punched him and called him the N-word during an incident last fall.

All this comes after multiple incidents with the Mesa police made national news, including a man who was shot and killed by a Mesa police officer after the man had cried for his life on his knees, and a body-cam video showing a Mesa police takedown of an 84-year-old grandmother resulting in injury to the woman.

Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista asked former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to investigate the excessive force used by his officers following the recent incidents caught on video. “I’m angry and I’m deeply disappointed by what I saw in those videos,” Batista said.

Protesters were cheered on by bystanders holding their phones up, recording videos and taking photos.

Just before arriving at the City Council Chambers, protesters took a knee at First and Center streets in the middle of the intersection as police closed down the roads.

“We ain’t stopping at a protest, we ain’t stopping at a simple press conference or rally,” Daren Barrett said. “We are going to go until these officers are fired.”

“There was no need to viciously get hit in the face by five, hardcore, knockout-styles blows,” Barrett said.

The protesters yelled that the officers involved should be fired or even arrested and some yelled at the officers who followed along. Police did not respond.

Cory Motley, the nephew of Akbar Aziz, a man shot and killed by Mesa police on April 22, said he wasn’t surprised when he saw the video of Johnson’s arrest. Police said Aziz, who was not armed, charged a police officer after he was told to step out of the middle of a road after stepping in front of a patrol car.

“I wasn’t surprised, I was honestly thinking like, ‘Here we go again with Mesa PD,’ It’s nothing out of the ordinary, we’re used to it,” Motley said.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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