On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council, after enduring a 3-hour session of mostly verbal abuse from progressive activists and anarachists, voted 7-2 to approve the budget. The budget includes $721 million for the police department.
Activists had demanded that the Council reject the budget as part of what City Councilman Sal DiCiccio described as an anti-police agenda.
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Rallies were held prior to the meeting in response to claims of police brutality by a family accused of shoplifting. A video of the arrests of 22-year-old Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, age 24, went viral and fueled outraged and demands for the firing of the officers involved. Officers could be seen pointing guns and yelling obscenities at the family members.
During the 3 hour meeting, Councilmen Jim Warning and DiCiccio pushed back against against the repeated verbal attacks on police officers in general. DiCiccio told demonstrators in attendance, who were trying to shout him down, “You are anarchists and you are out to destroy the city.”
Waring apologized to police officers for being called Nazis, terrorists, murderers, and rapists by attendees.
At the same time, Councilman Carlos Garcia wore a T-shirt that read “End Police Brutality.” He called for the formation of an ad hoc committee to implement change in the police force and the creation of a community review board with subpoena power.
Garcia made it clear that he did not want the officers to have the benefit of due process and wanted them fired immediately. However, City Manager Ed Zuercher warned Councilmembers against violating the officers’ due process rights.
Ultimately Garcia won and a review committee will be formed.
“I was prepared to vote ‘no’ on the budget today. I could not have in good faith voted to pass the budget after hearing the stories we’ve heard over the pass few days. They are disappointing and they are sad. Our city is hurting – and we have to do something about it,” said Councilwoman Laura Pastor in a statement released after the vote.
“If it took delaying a budget so that we could properly address these issues, I was prepared to do so. Given Mayor Gallego’s commitment to Councilmember Garcia and myself to direct the city manager to begin the process of enacting the civilian review body and an oversight ad hoc committee – I voted ‘yes,'” explained Pastor.
Ames is currently facing charges of aggravated assault of a police officer in an unrelated incident that occurred last year in Tempe. He and Harper are seeking $5 million in damages from the City.