For over 40 years, citizens in Phoenix have tried to bring accountability and transparency to the Phoenix police department. They have failed. For many years, Phoenix police have been in the top three of cities that shoot their own citizens. In 2022, they were number one and they are on course to be number one again in 2023. In the last five years, use-of-force on Black people has doubled and Black people face use-of-force incidents five times more than others. Clearly the uprising over the murder of George Floyd taught the Phoenix police nothing.
The affected communities have tried working with the police; fighting for a citizen’s review board; hiring more Blacks, including as chief; and suing over and over wasting the taxpayer’s money because taxpayers are the ones who pay for the officer’s violations of the law. Still we have had the Department of Justice investigation into the violence and discrimination of the Phoenix police for over two years. Even with the DOJ watching, they continue to murder Black people.
Twenty-nine-year-old Leontye Kirk was walking to a convenience store to buy a beer. The convenience store shows him interacting with multiple people with mostly jovial discussions ending in a handshake. However a person had followed him and waited outside with a gun. When Leontye exited and saw that man pointing a gun at him, he ran – as any sensible person would do.
But to his misfortune, a Phoenix police helicopter was above the scene and relayed false information that both men actively fired weapons that never happened. Leontye never fired a weapon. The police arrived primed to kill. Within seconds after arriving, one of the officers emptied his clip of 17 shots into Leontye lying on the sidewalk with his hands up. If that wasn’t enough, another officer fired seven more shots. And then they tased him – a dead man.
What did the police do then? Laugh about it, make jokes, and frantically search to find a gun that was nowhere near Mr. Kirk to cover up their violent racism.
The state legislature passed a law blocking a robust citizen’s review board. They passed another law to prohibit filming of police actions that was held unconstitutional. The police union alternatively cries and threatens officials including the mayor. Lawyers sue and sue and sue. Taxpayers pay and pay and pay. But Black men and women keep dying.
The Phoenix police must stop killing Black people. NOW. The Phoenix police are not here to “protect and serve.” They are here to terrorize and harass Black and Brown citizens. IT MUST STOP. Phoenix police must be held accountable from the top to the bottom. Contact the Mayor or your city council person. They can control the police by withholding monies and they must do that. https://www.phoenix.gov/mayorcouncil