A collection of community groups and activists dropped off thousands of petitions for the Maricopa County Attorneys Office on Thursday with specific demands regarding the agency’s botched 2020 protest cases.
The petitions sought four specific actions from County Attorney Allister Adel:
- Drop ALL charges against protesters with prejudice
- End political prosecutions
- Disband the First Responders’ Bureau
- Pay reparations to all people harmed by political prosecutions
The event was led by Bruce Franks Jr., a well-known activist working with Mass Liberation AZ, who was also arrested during an August protest last year.
Franks Jr. helped deliver several boxes of the petitions to MCAO’s lobby.
“They need to see us. They need to see the faces of those they harmed,” Franks said.
Following a series of ABC15 investigative reports, the charges against Franks and nearly three dozen other people were dropped because of flaws in the cases.
ABC15 exposed Phoenix police and county prosecutors grossly exaggerated evidence and provided clearly false information to grand juries in multiple protest cases.
In one case, officials charged a group of protesters as a criminal street gang and compared them to the Bloods, Crips, and Hells Angels, according to a grand jury transcript obtained by ABC15.
While dozens of the cases were dropped, most were dismissed without prejudice, which means they can be re-filed.
Defense attorneys have filed motions trying to block any future charges based on the misconduct in the cases.
County prosecutors filed a recent motion arguing the office should be allowed to consider future charges but admitted there were “deep flaws” in the cases.
A spokesperson confirmed to ABC15 that MCAO received the petitions and issued the following written statement.
“Cases at the county attorney’s office are reviewed based on the facts and evidence in a case and as we have stated publicly several times, many of the cases stemming from protests last year are currently undergoing this process to ensure the most appropriate charges were filed. Since these matters are on-going, prosecutorial ethical rules prevent the office commenting any further,” according to the statement.
Between the Phoenix Police Department and MCAO, the two agencies have ordered a total of four outside investigations into how the protest cases and responses were handled.
More than a dozen police officers and prosecutors have also been reassigned.
Officials said they do not have an estimate yet for when those outside probes will be completed.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.