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Black Lives Matter protest shuts down Mill Avenue bridges in Tempe, 3 arrested

The protest was to raise awareness of the deaths of two Black civilians killed by police officers in the Phoenix and Tempe areas

Rev. Jarrett Maupin is arrested during a police-violence protest on the Mill Avenue bridge on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Maupin was one of a few people arrested during the event.
Rev. Jarrett Maupin is arrested during a police-violence protest on the Mill Avenue bridge on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Maupin was one of a few people arrested during the event.

Three protesters were arrested Monday at a Black Lives Matter protest that blocked the Mill Avenue bridges for over an hour. 

Among those detained were organizer Rev. Jarrett Maupin and Calvin Hollins, the father of a black teenager killed by an officer from the Tempe Police Department over the summer. The third person detained has yet to be identified. 

They were arrested for blocking roadways while walking with nearly 100 other protesters along the Mill Avenue bridges Monday morning.

Hollins' son, Dalvin Hollins, was shot in July by an officer after fleeing while law enforcement officials looked to locate a robbery suspect, AZFamily reportedPolice said the officer who shot Hollins, Lt. Edward Ouimett, had a body camera, but it was not turned on at the time of the shooting. 

The protest was designed to raise awareness of the deaths of Hollins and Michelle Cusseaux who were separately killed by officers in Arizona.

Cusseaux was shot by a Phoenix officer on August 14, 2015 — days after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, North Carolina. The fatal shooting was declared outside department policy by Phoenix Police and eventually caused the demotion of the officer who fired the shots, Sgt. Percy Dupra. 

The two incidents sparked controversy in the community and resulted in a variety of protests throughout the Valley, some organized by Maupin.

“Dalvin Hollins was murdered, and we want his murderer not on paid leave, but fired from this publicly, taxpayer-funded police force,” Maupin said before his arrest. “We have the right to demand that, and that’s what we’re doing out here today.”

Emily Nunez, an elementary and special education junior, was among a group of ASU students at the protest.

“The goal is to raise awareness and make people aware of the systemic injustices that are in the United States and specifically in the justice system,” Nunez said. “I hope that this protest encourages both the Tempe Police and the Phoenix Police department to launch a thorough investigation into the deaths of these individuals in order to bring about some kind of change in our communities.” 

The protest was also a demonstration against police brutality against Black people all across America.

Black Lives Matter,” said one protester, who identified himself as Fe’la. “All lives matter, but everybody agrees that in particular, there is clearly one type that is being targeted right now.”

The occupation of the bridge began shortly before 10 a.m., when a group of supporters and activists walked into the street in front of the Tempe Beach Park and began walking up the northward Mill Avenue bridge.

Police Brutality Protest on Mill Ave Bridges from The State Press on Vimeo.

Police officers on bikes and motorcycles followed the group, asking them to move to the sidewalk and advising that anybody still on the street would be arrested.

In response, Maupin told the crowd not to be afraid, and they began chanting slogans such as “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” and “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”

When protesters reached the other side of the bridge, they walked across the divide between the bridges and started marching down the southbound bridge.

At this point, Tempe police officers began making arrests.

“Stand up,” one of the officers repeated as Maupin was dragged away, refusing to walk.

“I don’t care what they say, they killed my brother,” said Devin Franklin, who police pointed out as the next to be arrested if he did not vacate the street. “If (I have to be arrested) to get justice for my brother, that’s what I’ll do.”

Officers did not arrest Franklin at the protest.

Despite the arrests, many felt the protest sent a strong message to Tempe.

“We have to come out and make sure that we’re constantly vigilant,” said Cordelia Candelaria, a retired ASU professor and former vice president of academic affairs for the school. “I see the poster of the victims, and it breaks my heart. This is not a society that we can allow for this to happen.”

Tempe Police declined comment on the protest at the time of publication. However, a statement released Friday said, "Anyone who chooses to interfere with traffic is subject to potential arrest and booking into jail."

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