In a video uploaded to the city of Phoenix’s YouTube account, two City Council members appear to make fun of Councilman Carlos Garcia and his critical comments about Phoenix police shootings.
Garcia, who has worn a black T-shirt that says “End Police Brutality” during City Council meetings, has been the most critical council member of Phoenix police for its use-of-force cases and police shootings.
Poder in Action, a Maryvale-based advocacy group, recently criticized the council members — Michael Nowakowski and Betty Guardado — for trying to make light of police violence.
In the 10-minute video, which was uploaded Dec. 20 and recorded at Desert Sky Mall in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale, Nowakowski and Guardado talk about buying gifts for their colleagues.
‘This isn’t his fight alone’
“Well you know he loves police, right?” Guardado says in the video, referring to Garcia.
“I got a crazy idea, let’s get him a shirt (that says) ‘I love Phoenix PD,'” Nowakowski responds. “And hey, hashtag, ‘Por Vida,'” which means, for life.
They walk to a vendor and tell him they need something for Garcia who loves Phoenix PD. They ask him if he has something for him. The vendor pulls out a blue custom-made shirt that says, “I Love Phoenix PD #PorVida.”
Both council members then hold up the shirt and say, “Hey Carlos, we love you. Merry Christmas.”
In a Facebook post, Poder in Action, which has been at the forefront of advocating to change police training to reduce the number of police shootings, responded to the city of Phoenix video.
The group said that seeing Nowakowski and Guardado “make fun of” Garcia’s “fight” to hold the Phoenix Police Department accountable is “discouraging and disappointing.”
“This isn’t his fight alone,” the group’s statement says. “You’ve heard the pain of mothers whose children have been killed, of kids who’ve been traumatized, and of women who have been sexually assaulted by Phoenix police. The pain of our community, and someone willing to speak on their behalf, is not a joke.”
It goes on to say that Nowakowski and Guardado’s comments also help promote the type of culture that lets police go unaccountable for the shootings and use-of-force cases.
Guardado said she had no comment when asked by The Arizona Republic about the video. Nowakowski didn’t return a phone message left by The Republic on a cellphone number listed under his name.
Phoenix police shootings outpace some similar sized and larger cities
In 2018, Phoenix police had 44 shootings, the most police shootings in the nation by a municipal police department.
In 2019, the number of cases dramatically dropped by 66% to 15 shootings — the fewest number of cases in a decade.
A previously published Republic analysis found that Phoenix police, who serve a city with 1.6 million residents, had an average of 17 shootings per every 1 million residents from 2011 to 2018 — more than New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and San Diego.
In 2019, the Police Department still outpaced a majority of those cities with nine shootings per every 1 million.
In that eight-year span, Phoenix police shot at 212 people, killing about half.
The Republic’s analysis found that Hispanic people were the most often shot and black and Native American people were disproportionately shot when compared with their population numbers in the city.
Garcia is the target of racist comments
Garcia has been the target of racist comments on social media by people who disagree that there is a police violence problem in Phoenix.
In June 2019, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, or PLEA as the group is commonly referred to, “liked” a comment on its Facebook page questioning if Garcia took money from drug cartels.
The user wrote: “How much are the cartels paying him?”
PLEA in its original post asked whether Garcia has the best interest of Phoenix police officers at heart considering his activism against Arizona’s controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070, which allows police to question someone about their immigration status.
A moderator for the group “Angel Families United” posted The Republic’s editorial endorsement of Garcia, along with a caption calling upon voters to reject the candidate because of his “anti-Trump, anti-Police stance,” Phoenix New Times reported on April 29.
“We need TRUE BLOODED AMERICANS running AMERICAN cities and states,” a moderator posted.
The comments on the post devolved from there.
“People who are from other countries do not belong in our government. They will not represent American citizens. They will represent their people,” posted one user.
“Why does everyone think these noncitizens can do everything us citizens have rights too??? Stand up and shout ‘no’!!!!” posted another.
“A puppet for the cartel and he and others will make sure to keep boarders (sic) open for illegals to break the law. Sickening,” one person posted.
One user posted, “Die soon traitor.” That post was later deleted.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 2 Phoenix council members ‘make fun’ of Councilman Garcia’s comments on police shootings
Published at Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:15:15 +0000