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Organizer hoping police brutality protest brings Mesa to standstill

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PHOENIX — A Valley civil rights activist said Wednesday he hopes a police brutality protest he was planning would bring Mesa to a standstill.

“We are embarking on what I believe is an ambitious plan to cause gridlock and shut down major arterial streets in the city,” the Rev. Jarrett Maupin said during a press conference.

The Thursday protest at the the Mesa Police Department headquarters near Country Club Drive and Main Street was in response to the arrest of Jason Michael Barton — who was charged with jaywalking and possession of marijuana — that turned violent.

Video of the arrest (WARNING: LINK CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND DISTURBING IMAGES) showed a fight between Barton and two officers.

Mesa Police Det. Steve Berry said it was too early to know if any wrongdoing took place and that both officers were wearing body cameras.

Berry said the department had been given a directive to discourage jaywalking because of a high number this year of pedestrian fatalities.

“When you look at that video, it’s a black and white, classic, textbook case of police brutality and excessive force,”Maupin said. “There’s just no other way to describe it.”

Mesa Police Department spokesman Det. Nikolas Rasheta told 12 News the officers had to use excessive force because Barton had tried to run away.

“Had this person not run, there wouldn’t have been a use of force,” Rasheta said. “Had this person not resisted detention, there wouldn’t have been a use of force.”

Maupin said the officers — neither of which faced punishment — should face assault charges and be fired.

“Clearly, the behavior they engaged in was in violation of their policies and procedures,” he said.

The protest was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Maupin urged people to remain peaceful.

“It’s a critical time for our community,” he said. “We’re encouraging everyone to remain nonviolent – even counterprotesters and law enforcement.”

In addition to the protest at police headquarters, Maupin said he would bring in “hundreds of black people” to jaywalk in the city.

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