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‘Stop Phx Police Violence’ banner removed from Phoenix overpass

(Poder in Action photo)

PHOENIX — A 100-foot banner reading “STOP PHX POLICE VIOLENCE” that was placed on an overpass over State Route 51 in Phoenix turned some heads during rush hour on Wednesday, but it was quickly taken down.

The banner, dropped by activists with the community organization Poder in Action, was first noticed by freeway cameras around 7:30 a.m. Those same cameras captured Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers taking it down around 10 minutes later.

In a statement, organizer Parris Wallace said the group decided to unfurl the banner because Phoenix police were involved in its 40th officer-involved shooting of 2018 on Tuesday.

“We wish we were stunned that the Phoenix police just shot their 40th person, but sadly we cannot be,” Wallace said in an email.

“The Phoenix police leads the country in officer involved shootings in 2018. Every nine days they are shooting a resident in our city. We refuse to let this be our new normal.”

An armed robbery suspect was shot and killed by Phoenix police after leading officers on a car chase across town that ended in Glendale. The man, who has not been identified, was wanted in a string of armed robberies, including a carjacking, over the last week.

It was not clear whether he fired a weapon at officers during the Tuesday pursuit.

Viri Hernandez, the executive director of Poder in Action, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce & Pamela on Wednesday that the organization would like Phoenix officials to do something to combat the issue of violent citizen-police encounters while a report on the spike in police-involved shootings in Phoenix occurs.

“(The report) is definitely not enough. That report came after months of community groups going to (Phoenix City Council), protesting and showing that this was an issue,” she said.

“By the time (the report) was issued in June, we were already at over 30 shootings. That means that we let this happen and the city is not moving without people and community pressing for something to happen,” she added.

“And unlike other cities, Phoenix is just saying we will just research and do nothing in the meanwhile while we research, this report is going to be six months long. During those six months, how many other shootings are going to happen?”

The same organization later unveiled another banner at Phoenix City Hall as the city council prepared to meet.

Poder in Action describes itself as an organization that “focuses on building power to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression.”

Phoenix police declined to provide a comment.