I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Racial profiling, police brutality lead to community meetings.

Thanks to Phoenix Copwatch for passing on this notice tonight.


Phoenix residents in August may share their experiences about how police officers interact with the community.

A citizen's task force was created in the wake of a March incident involving Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson, who was handcuffed by a south Phoenix patrol officer. The task force is finalizing dates and times for several forums that will be open to the public. Johnson, the city's only African-American council member, initially accused the White patrol officer of violating his civil rights. The two have since resolved their disagreement, ending criminal- and internal-investigations into the matter.

City Manager David Cavazos ordered the 45-person task force to create concrete recommendations on improving police-resident interaction, including minority communities where residents claim ongoing problems with police misconduct.

• Forums are tentatively scheduled 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 9, Aug. 23 and Aug. 25. The city is considering a fourth forum, on Aug. 12.

• Dual-language forums for Spanish-speaking residents are tentatively scheduled 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 17 and Aug. 19.

• Forums for teens and young adults will be hosted 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 7 and Aug. 14.

More specific information about the meetings will be provided at The Republic and, and on the city's Web site at

----------------------------from the same page of the Arizona Republic-----------------

Police altercation near Phoenix church 'put fear into community'

Attendance drops after claim of police abuse near Phoenix church

Some parishioners saw the men being handcuffed by police. They wondered why one man was face-down on the street outside their church, blood dripping from his face.

The incident outside St. Paul the Apostle Sudanese Episcopal Church, in which Phoenix police officers were accused of falsely arresting and abusing two Sudanese refugees, led to a recent $150,000 settlement to avoid a lawsuit.

Attendance at prayer services at the church near Seventh Avenue and Buckeye Road averaged more than 130 people prior to the incident, though word of the altercation "put fear into the community" of refugees, many of whom are now avoiding the neighborhood out of fear of racial profiling and police brutality, the church pastor said.

"The news of that incident, it caused the numbers to go down," the Rev. Anderia Arok said.

Services now average 60 to 70 people, Arok said.

The two Sudanese men who received the settlement were planning on attending a prayer service inside the church that day in July 2009, joining other refugees to discuss an international court's ruling on a regional dispute in their war-torn homeland.

St. Paul the Apostle, which is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, caters to Sudanese refugees.

An internal police investigation cleared Officers Jason Hammernick and Corey Shibata of any wrongdoing. City officials said similar settlements are approved to avoid the added expense of defending officers in court.

The notice of claim from the incident outlined how the officers "conspired to falsify" details of the case to justify their probable cause for booking the men on suspicion of resisting arrest and to "avoid being held accountable for their wrongful conduct."

Hammernick and Shibata told supervisors that they targeted the men as part of a routine traffic stop after running a license plate on a rented Nissan Xterra revealing that the vehicle had been used in a drug case months earlier.

Arok said the incident "looked like a humiliation," and that many parishioners believed that the escalation from the traffic stop resulted from racial profiling. He said the men were wearing ties and looked like church members, not anyone connected with illegal drug activity.

"We are not denying there are drugs in the area, but this was in front of the church," Arok said.

Aluk Bak Deng, 38, of Tucson, and Angok Atem, 28, claimed they were aggressively pushed and shoved outside the vehicle, though the officers said the men refused to comply with commands, which led to the physical escalation.

Bak Deng and Atem were with a third man sitting in the rental vehicle as they waited for Arok to open the church for the afternoon prayer service. Bak Deng, president of the Arizona chapter of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, was scheduled to speak at the service.

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