Monday, November 1, 2004

October 22 summary

Roughly 45 people attended Phoenix's sixth annual march and protest against police brutality held on Friday, October 22 2004. Those gathered, came from both collectives of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (the Anti-Power Society from the west valley and the Monsoon Anarchist Collective from the east valley), the Women in Black, and a couple dozen other folks who are just sick of police brutality, met at Patriot's Square Park in downtown Phoenix. A contingent from the police monitoring group Phoenix Copwatch was also present to videotape and document any police brutality or abuse at the demonstration.

The march left Patriot's Square Park shortly after 5:30 and headed straight to the Phoenix Police Department's main station, just down the street from the Park. The police presence was very light, four red squad cops (Police who spy on radical groups under the guise of acting as public relations for the department), two cops on bikes, a couple of cops sitting in unmarked cars across the street from the park, a police van that kept cruising by the march, and a helicopter briefly hovered over the park. Once the march arrived, the department's front doors were guarded from the inside by a cop and, to discourage anyone from entering, 20 gang task force officers were standing ready in the parking lot across the street from the station next to a row of unmarked cars. The Phoenix cops used this same tactic last year, placing heavily armed cops across the street from the police station and using a few bicycle cops, but keeping most of the bike cops out of the sight of the demonstration and just a few blocks away at all times. Demonstrators called the police out on the killings and brutality in Phoenix, the harassment and repression of anarchists and radicals in Phoenix, and one demonstrator mentioned the 21 year old woman who was murdered by a police officer in Boston after a Red Sox game that week. A couple of marchers overheard one police officer saying "Yeah, there's a bunch of little terrorists out here," as he was exiting the station, word of the insult moved among marchers.

The march then left the Police station to move to the Madison Street Jail, passing by the crowd of police in the parking lot first, demonstrators chanted "police are the terrorists" and "cops are bin Laden" while flipping off the gang task force thugs, who could only stand by watching as they were mocked and insulted.

It was important for the protest to end at the Madison Street Jail, a site that is notorious for it's master, Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio, who took jailing and policing in Arizona to new level of scandal and horror. Most recently, inmates at the Durango jail went on hunger strike due to the conditions in the jails, conditions that have led to the Maricopa Count Sheriff's Office receiving warning from the US Dept of Justice and from Amnesty International. The demonstration halted at the steps to the Madison Jail where a handful of sheriff deputies stood keeping watch, the deputies and the jail were quickly denounced by the crowd. Protesters screamed "Fuck sheriff Joe" in unison, along with pro-inmate slogans knowing that the inmates inside would be able to hear the chants inside the jail. The anti-police brutality day ended back at the park where signs and banners were held in front of passing traffic.

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