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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chrisman PLEA BBQ: just abolish the police.

Yesterday afternoon and evening the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association held a barbecue to raise funds for their poor, persecuted officer, Richard Chrisman, who finally got sacked from the Phoenix PD because of that little second-degree murder he's being prosecuted for. If they had treated planting evidence on and cuffing an innocent woman as a crime of assault rather than a boyish prank or "poor judgment," Daniel Rodriguez would still be alive and there never would have been this kind of confrontation between them and the community - not just the Latino community, either. Quite a few people throughout the course of the day came through just to protest them (here's the New Times' coverage, along with an earlier post on what kind of propaganda PLEA's putting out about the Christ-like Chrisman. I think it was Stephen Lemons who tipped us off to this event with that piece, in fact).

Below are a decent couple of TV interviews from the late afternoon demonstrations. I thought it was interesting that in the older protests over Danny's death, back in October, the mainstream media (national media particularly) tried to make it look like only the Latino community here really cared, and that the demos at the PPD HQ were evidence that Phoenix was about to erupt in a "race riot" over Chrisman, which was hardly the case. The Latino community organized and mobilized peacefully and effectively. Most of the protesters from Danny's community were actually much more conservative and measured in their expressions of outrage than than I am (with a few exceptions, like Radio KASA's Carlos Galindo, who doesn't seem to hold much back); some even cleaned up their own chalkings yesterday, despite the anger seething through the crowd (I chewed out Al from the Red Squad when he asked me to do so, though. I didn't make my signs for my own amusement - I wanted them to clean up that mess - it's THEIR MESS).

This time it seemed like an even more diverse crowd turned out; here KTVK Channel 3 interviewed a black guy and a white guy about why they were there, instead of focusing on the Latino community as being the only one that's disturbed by PLEA's decision to stand by their man. The anarchists turned out in the evening, too, I noticed - though they just came as members of the larger public, not in a black bloc. They are capable of employing a variety of strategies and tactics, believe it or not - acting both independently and collectively.

Or maybe I should be saying "we".

Here's the news clip:

During the protest one of the cops walking out of the place grinned and yelled, brilliantly, in response to being jeered for supporting a murderer: "they shouldn't have called the police!" Yeah, we're learning that, asshole. You folks shot two more men this week, both of whom were using the vehicles they were fleeing in as weapons.

Now, the police department is arguing that justification for use of deadly force in self-defense exists if a person has a reasonable expectation that the other person is going to seriously harm them, and that their cops had good reason to feel that their lives, not just their collars, were at risk.

Instead of taking out the tires or more strategically positioning themselves, they shot him to death in just moments (firing one round into a police vehicle). This report says the cop who pulled one suspect over thought he was just making a traffic stop - so how'd he know that kids weren't in there?
In the video that the PPD pulled out to show the unarmed driver's murderous intentions, it looks like the cop feared being run over from sitting inside a heavily-equipped police SUV.

Anyway, if these guys had the right to shoot in self-defense, why didn't Danny Rodriguez even have the right to flee in self-defense after Chrisman put his gun to his temple saying: "I don't need no motherfuckin' warrant", when Danny objected to him pushing his way into his home and killing his dog? And just how is it that drugs in Danny's toxicology results justifies police violence when his actual conduct - by the eyewitness testimony of another officer - didn't?

People outside of the communities most affected by police violence need to know that cops marching into that hall yesterday were well aware that members at all levels of the PHX PD have done a lot more to the public they swore they'd protect and serve than than harass and brutalize the more vulnerable among us - though those are certainly their more grievous offenses. PHX police officers are also suspected in the murder of one of their own last October, too - Sean Drenth. The officers that surrendered DNA for the homicide investigation were already under investigation for theft and conspiracy - along with Sergeant Drenth. There have been allegations that he was executed by the other cops he'd been getting dirty with on the side for fear that he would have - or already had - talked. At least twenty, it seemed, were under investigation - I don't know the final count on indictments.

Then there's the recent departure of the Chief (or whatever he was), Jack Harris, in the wake of an expanding investigation into the inflation of kidnapping statistics in federal reporting, which secured millions of extra dollars for the department - and fueled the escalating anti-immigrant rhetoric, violence, and legislation (we were the kidnapping capitol of America), while we were all too busy protesting Arpaio and Pearce to notice what damage the PPD had done with lies.

That was all part of the hateful climate in this state which helped three different people justify murdering nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her family on the grounds that they represented drug smugglers and criminals (which they weren't) - who apparently (unlike cops, who get the presumption of innocence the rest of us are supposed to be entitled before being punished) deserve to be not only victimized but summarily executed; the proceeds were to be used to support their racist border militia patro
ls, during which they would no doubt have been executing families, too. If she wasn't slated for execution now, Shawna Forde would be a likely candidate for Governor Brewer to recruit for her own private army, or for Arpaio to sign up for his posse. No qualms there about killing fleeing Latinos.

Back to the PHX PD: I have to admit that most of the PHX cops I've dealt with have been pretty gentle when trying to intimidate me into refraining from exercising my first amendment rights on their beat (meaning, to some, their sidewalk, not ours); some have given me their blessings. The "Red Squad" (the "Community Response Squad" that polices resistance and protest) even backed up my freedom of speech when Wells Fargo tried to stop me from chalking their sidewalk on Monday. But at whose expense is my privilege, and how much of it comes from my gender, age, ancestry (I'm blond, college educated, fairly sane, and come from Pilgrim and Mormon stock), etc.?

For the most part I've had a nice honeymoon with them - some fiesty exchanges, for sure, but no one got hurt. I can't help but think that might have been different if I was a 16 year-old youth of color who they happened across tagging the sidewalk in the middle of the night: a piece of chalk can look like a gun, you know - especially in a black or brown hand. All these scandals and abuses surfacing in the past six months have been pretty incredible, too - and the corruption goes so high and so deep. I'm not even going to bother to put all the links up this morning - I'm way too tired for that. Just Google those things I didn't set up a link for if you don't believe me.

Here's one of many photos I took yesterday at Chrisman's fundraiser. I'll put up the rest this weekend. No, the hand isn't mine - it appeared there by surprise....

Finally, for those of you who were at the protest who may end up being targeted for your participation, Brian Wilkins posted photos of many of the cops attending while he was there - check out the PLEA Wall of Shame he put up, and keep your eyes wide open in case any of them come back to haunt you. Notice those smug grins on the faces of so many white cops coming and going from the event. I have a lot of similar close-ups, too: some were even laughing (albeit rather nervously).

These are the people we pay to protect and serve us, Phoenix. Think real hard now about just how good an idea it is to arm men like this with such a free license to kill. Any one of us could really be next.

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