Anarchists Storm Scottsdale to Protest Michael Brown Decision by Missouri Grand Jury (w/Update)
Note: Please see update(s) at the end of this post.
On Saturday, about 50 assorted anarchists and others took their anti-cop message right to the heart of conspicuous consumption in the Valley: Old Town Scottsdale.
Organized online by the group Wave of Action PHX, the purpose of the demonstration was to express anger and outrage over the failure of a Missouri grand jury to indict white Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown.
Dressed in black, some wearing masks and waving red flags, the protesters startled oldsters and party hard-iers alike with chants of "Fuck the Pigs," "Cops, pigs, murders" and "What do we want? Darren Wilson. How do we want him? DEAD."
In response, as you will see in the above video by Dennis Gilman, two morons emerged from the Wasted Grain bar near E. Stetson Drive and Drinkwater Boulevard, after likely wasting some grain themselves, in order to do battle with the demonstrators.
The ensuing melee ended with the two goofy white boys being collared for disorderly conduct and assault by the Scottsdale cops, who rolled up en masse and read the crowd the riot act. Literally.
The demonstrators then dispersed. The Scottsdale cops also arrested one protester, whom they accuse of throwing the rock that busted a front window at the Trailside Galleries on E. Scottsdale Mall.
Ironically, the guy arrested for allegedly breaking the window was the only African-American present at the protest. Or so I'm told.
Local anarchist Beth Payne was at the demonstration on Saturday. She told me that she and her colleagues were trying to shock the local citizenry out of its complacency and focus concern on killings and brutality by Valley cops.
"There are protests going on all over the country because it's not just about Mike Brown," she told me during a phone interview. "It's not just about Darren Wilson. The problem is pervasive everywhere and the outcome is always the same: The police officer is never held accountable in the way that a citizen would be held accountable for the death of a person."
I asked her about the broken window. Did she think the destruction of property would be held against those attending such demonstrations in the future?
"I personally never feel like I have the right to police someone's level of anger over the death of other human beings," she explained. "People are going to act out that anger...and I think there are very few things that justify more righteous anger than kids getting shot down in the street."
UPDATE 5:39 PM:
Maybe you can chalk this up to karma, but one of the white boys in Gilman's video is well known in Steubenville, Ohio for all the wrong reasons.
The shorter of the pair is Matthew Belardine, a former volunteer football coach at Steubenville High School and one of the adults indicted in a notorious case from 2012, which involved two high school football players raping a passed-out 16-year old girl.
Fox 9 News in Ohio reports that "Belardine served a 10-day sentence in Jefferson County in April after he was convicted of lying to investigators" and allowing underage drinking in his home by the girl and the football players involved in the crime.
Apparently, Belardine is still on probation.
The news outlet also quotes the Ohio Attorney General's Office as stating that it is "working to obtain a copy of Mr. Belardine's police report from Arizona" so its "special prosecutions section [can] review the report for possible probation violations."
Belardine's pal in Gilman's video is Sam Busic, also from Steubenville.
Busic attended Steubenville High School, according to his Facebook page.
His LinkedIn page states that he once worked for the Phoenix Suns in "membership sales."
Busic was charged with misdemeanor assault, and was booked into Scottsdale City Jail, then cited and released by the Scottsdale PD.
Belardine was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and received the same treatment.
Martel Stevenson, an African-American whom the Scottsdale PD claims busted a gallery store window with a rock during the protest, was arrested and charged with a felony count of criminal damage.
Unlike the other two, Stevenson was booked into 4th Avenue Jail in downtown Phoenix, which, as some of you may know, is a major hassle.
Sergeant Ben Hoster, a spokesman for the Scottsdale Police Department, said that Stevenson caught a felony charge due to the dollar amount of the damage to the gallery, which supposedly included a broken sculpture of some kind as well as the busted window.
Those with felony charges are booked into the county jail, he told me.
The cost of the vandalism was estimated to be $6,000, well over the threshold for a felony. I asked how the Scottsdale PD would know that. Hoster said the PD would have checked with the owner of the property to obtain the value.
Stevenson could have been charged with a misdemeanor, according to Hoster, but the dollar amount of the damage dictated a felony.
"If he hadn't busted up a statue or caused damage inside of the store," said Hoster,"if it was [just] a window, it would have been a misdemeanor charge."
And for a misdemeanor charge, Stevenson would have been cited, booked into city jail and released, as with other misdemeanor offenders.
Hoster denied that race was a factor in the charging decisions, and emphasized that these were two separate incidents, involving different parties.
He said he was unaware that Belardine was on probation till this morning.
Regarding another issue, the local blog Down and Drought has some interesting insight on why Busic is screaming "Fuck Anonymous!" as he runs like a madman into the crowd of protesters outside the Wasted Grain bar in Gilman's video.
D & D notes that some of the demonstrators were wearing Guy Fawkes masks like the one in the film V for Vendetta. The mask is often associated with the hacker group Anonymous.
The post's author "Sun Burns" then writes:
Why was Busic so angry with Anonymous? Well maybe because Anonymous played a central role in driving the Steubenville story into the national media and ensuring that charges were brought by officials, who up to that point seemed more inclined to ignore the whole thing, covering up for a popular sports team and players. Specifically, Anonymous doxxed Belardine. Anonymous has also been active in the protests in Ferguson, in particular outing Klan members publicly, including dumping the data of a local KKK leader.
This certainly explains Belardine and Busic's violent reaction to the demonstrators, which was super-dumb.
Others in the video seemed content to watch the curiosity of an anarchist protest in Old Town Scottsdale on a Saturday night pass them by without incident.
Got a tip for The Bastard? Send it to: Stephen Lemons.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.