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Gov. Doug Ducey, Black mothers meet to discuss police violence

Gov Doug Ducey Black Mothers Forum
Posted at 7:31 PM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 21:39:06-05

PHOENIX — On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey and Janelle Wood, the founder of Black Mothers Forum, met to discuss issues between law enforcement and Black communities in Arizona, including police violence and racial justice.

Wood also wanted to point out the differences between law enforcement's seemingly hands-off approach with the armed protesters who disagreed with the result of the presidential election compared to the treatment of protesters who marched and rallied earlier this summer against police brutality and violence concerns.

"They (election protesters) are free to exercise their First Amendment rights the way they choose to. But unfortunately, when it comes to our young people and to our community, when we want to exercise our First Amendment rights, we have a lot of restrictions. And there's a lot of conditions placed on how we get to go about that," she told ABC15.

Wood founded Black Mothers Forum, an advocacy group that has been lobbying Gov. Ducey to make tangible moves to curb police violence, specifically against young Black people in the state.

It is behavior that she attributes to what she refers to as a system "that is focused on limiting the movement of black bodies," Wood said. "And so when those black bodies don't do what the system wants to do to make it feel comfortable, the system will do all it can to shut it down to label our children thugs and whatever else -- mobs and gangsters -- and all these things."

In a meeting on June 9, Wood was asked to meet with Gov. Ducey during the height of protests against police violence and racial justice, following the deaths of Dion Johnson in Phoenix, and George Floyd in Minneapolis.

At the time, she said Gov. Ducey asked her for her deliverables.

Included in her several requests, was that he facilitate meetings between the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the family of Dion Johnson, a Black man who was killed by DPS troopers on May 25.

She said that meeting did not happen due to legal concerns from the state. But, Wood said Gov. Ducey committed to meeting with community organizers about their concerns regarding their treatment by law enforcement.

"It's going to, first of all, allow the governor to hear from them their expectations, not only of him but of law enforcement, and then they're also going to have an opportunity to tell him what they want him to do about it," Wood said.

Ducey's staff has already set up similar meetings with police chiefs across the state, according to Wood.

While she said meetings are good, she is hoping by this time next year there will be more solutions and less of a need for protests.

"Civilians should be the ones that actually lead the charge in transformation. So it's not so much as a reformation, we need a transformation. We need a whole overhaul of what public safety looks like in our community."

Gov. Ducey's office did share photos from the meeting via Twitter, but his office did not respond to ABC15's requests for details about that meeting by our story deadline.

"I can't own what somebody wants to do. And I can't own what their intentions are or their motivation. So I don't know what the motivation is. But I pray that the motivation is pure behind putting that out," she said, of Ducey sharing photos of their meeting on social media.