Boiling Point: Policing In Arizona At A Crossroads
Policing in Arizona is at a crossroads as long-simmering issues involving race and use-of-force come to a head.
O n Memorial Day in Minneapolis, a police officer killed George Floyd, kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes as the Black man — accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill — pleaded for the opportunity to breathe. Footage of the killing evoked international outrage against police use of force, particularly against minorities, bringing new intensity and urgency to long-standing calls for reform. That includes Arizona, an epicenter of the nation’s police reform debate which saw its own controversial killing on Memorial Day.
“That’s why we’re out in the streets," says Jacob Raiford of the W.E. Rising Project. "That’s why we’ve been out for almost two months at this point. It’s because we have reached that boiling point."
In this five-part series, KJZZ examines policing in Arizona, from the Wild West to the current day, exploring the complex intersection between race and policing, the culture of law enforcement, the impact of modern technology — and what lies ahead.
From the Wild West gunfights of territorial days to the controversial shootings of today, deadly encounters between law enforcement and civilians have remained a part of Arizona's narrative. →
Law enforcement and racial dynamics intersect throughout the history of Arizona, where minorities have fought for justice, equality and criminal justice reform against a backdrop of racial controversies. →
Culture and training have a strong influence on the behavior of police, and use-of-force decisions, especially, can be shaped by conflicting philosophies of guardians and warriors. →
The prevalence of video footage — both from civilian smartphones and police-worn body cameras — is shedding new light on violent encounters and changing perceptions of law enforcement. →
Long-standing efforts to reform and reimagine policing have gained strength nationally and locally. Why is now different, what do calls to "defund the police" really mean, and what lies ahead?→
→ Hear More: Race, Diversity And The Black Lives Matter Movement