PHOENIX — Angry Phoenicians clogged phone lines during the public comment portion of a Public Safety and Justice Subcommittee meeting regarding an investigation into whether Phoenix officers made a challenge coin containing hate speech.
“We’ve known this for years. We know that the Phoenix Police Department is racist and all of you are responsible for upholding white supremacy," said Dr. Angeles Maldonado. "The fact that you’re doing absolutely nothing about it is disgusting.”
Maldonado, the CEO of Ybarra Maldonado Law Firm in Phoenix, has handled the cases of several men and women arrested during protests last year. She still represents a handful of clients facing charges for demonstrating but recalls what she saw firsthand during her on the streets as a legal observer.
“We know the role that we were there to play, and the reality is that the police did not care. If we were there in anyway associated with the group, you know, they were going to target you," she explained to ABC15. “There’s just so many instances of just absolute abuse of power.”
Several dozen others expressed similar outrage.
"This is a problem that has gone to long without being appropriately addressed."
"Year after year, the City of Phoenix has let the police police themselves, has let the police investigate themselves, has let the police claim that they are addressing their own problems and year after year we see continued violence, continued racism and continued on accountability and transparency.”
"We have to address this in a manner that provides real justice and real public safety for the citizens of Phoenix.”
Council members allowed callers to speak during public comment at the beginning and end of Monday's meeting, but were heard cutting off those who tried to voice concerns during other agenda items, including discussion on an ordinance on how to cite owners of barking dogs.
“I can’t believe we’re talking about barking dogs instead of the racism that’s being upheld in the Phoenix Police Department," said one caller.
"Either you’re completely unaware of the news that has finally broken publicly that the Phoenix Police Department celebrates violence that they perpetuate on the community and that they lie under oath to silence dissent, or you are aware, and you don’t even care enough to add this egregious, vile police activity to the Public Safety and Justice Subcommittee agenda," said another.
Council member Carlos Garcia, representing South Phoenix, took a moment to try and comment in Wednesday's meeting, but was told he could only do so if he intended to add the issue as a formal agenda item for a later date.
Eventually, Garcia spoke up. "I hope that my colleagues all watched the ABC reporting that folks are talking about," he said. "I think it's something like I've never seen before."
"I also want to know what accountability looks like for these officers who lie and make things up in order to prosecute other people," he added.
Editor’s note: This report is the start of an ongoing series of ABC15 investigative reports called “Politically Charged.” Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.