TEMPE, AZ — It's one of the prides of Tempe. Each year, the city hosts an annual Regional Unity Walk at Tempe Beach Park to celebrate diversity and unity. The city has been joining other local cities since 2004 for entertainment, food and kid activities.
"The message is obviously unity," said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. "We have a motto in Tempe that together we're better."
The event drew a large crowd and ended with a march. Meanwhile, a group of about 15 gathered in front of Tempe Police Department at around the same as the unity event. The organizer said they don't feel united with the city. "Go over there and tell them that there is no unity and diversity in the city of Tempe when we have officers shooting and killing unarmed folks who pose no threat," said Darien Barrett, the organizer of the event.
This protest was over the January 15 police-involved shooting of 14 year old Antonio Arce. Police said Arce broke into a truck and stole an airsoft gun. Body cam video shows him running from a responding officer, who police identified as veteran officer Joseph Jaen. "The incident that happened is very unfortunate and there's a process with the investigation as to all the particulars that happened in that case," said Mitchell.
The mayor asked for patience as the investigation into the shooting is about to enter its third week. Officer Jaen is on administrative leave while police investigate, then ultimately hand the case over to the Maricopa County Attorney to review. But the members of the group gathered outside the police station said they've seen what there is to see and they have their minds made up.
"I'm not too sure of the solution," said Barrett. "We need justice." Barrett said some of the protestors will be at next week's Tempe City Council meeting to voice their concerns.