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Protesters demand change. So now what?

Posted at 3:41 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 15:19:15-04

PHOENIX — Governor Ducey says he's been doing a lot of listening in the days since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. "They're asking for change. They're asking for reform. They had enough of this," the Governor said during a news conference last week.

On Tuesday the Governor met with Janelle Wood, founder of the Black Mothers Forum to discuss ways to keep children and communities safe. Last week he met with members of the legislature. A spokesperson for the governor said social justice reform was among the topics discussed.

From Buckeye to Gilbert, Chandler to Scottsdale and every night in Phoenix, protesters are calling for more than just an end to police brutality. They are demanding accountability.

"From my perspective, the debate has fundamentally changed in the last two weeks," Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said prior to the City Council voting to fully fund a citizens review board.

"Often we hear from people most impacted by an issue," Gallego said. "Over the last two weeks, I have heard from the full spectrum of our community who say they want a city where everyone feels safe and they're willing to take on difficult issues."

The Phoenix Citizens Review Board will be ready to begin work on investigating officer-involved shootings and police brutality later this year.

On Tuesday, the Phoenix Police Department also announced that officers will no longer be trained on, or allowed to use chokeholds while trying to restrain suspects.

At the legislature, Democrats are asking the governor to include social justice reform in his expected call for a special session later this month. The Governor, who supports outfitting body cameras on all DPS officers, was non-committal. But he acknowledges improvements need to be made. "I think there are changes we can do in Arizona from training to diversity of our law enforcement officers to how we interact with the citizens," Ducey said.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, who marched with protesters believes they are seizing the opportunity to force change. "Change is coming, we can feel it, we can see it, we can process it," she said. "To be better and really listen to what's happening here and formulate change, it's an opportunity I want to jump into."

While Chief Williams, the Mayor and most of the City Council are embracing change, it's not clear what may happen elsewhere. In Tempe, supporters who want to defund the police department, plan to speak out at this week's city council meeting.

Whether they show up at city council meetings or march in the streets one thing appears certain, thousands of people across the valley and state aren't asking for social justice reforms. They're demanding them.

At Sunday's march to DPS headquarters, Bandak Lul told ABC15's Adam Waltz, "It can take 100 days until justice is served, I don't care. I'll be out here." The Governor knows, the Bandak Lul's of the world aren't going away. "There are things that need to be addressed around our law enforcement," Ducey says.

How that happens depends on whether it the State or a city that makes the reforms, but rest assured that day is coming.