The Reverend Jarrett Maupin catches a lot of flak for leading protests of police shootings in greater Phoenix. But nature abhors a vacuum. And love him or loathe him, Maupin remains the point man for direct action in the Valley, keeping the pressure on law-enforcement agencies with marches and demonstrations that give local police officials angina.
For Maupin's next demonstration, he plans to lead protesters in a march and blockade of Tempe's two Mill Avenue bridges, which offer main thoroughfares in and out of the heart of Tempe, beginning at 9 a.m. Monday in what he's calling a "Moral Monday," a title he borrowed from a series of protests in Raleigh, North Carolina, led by that state's branch of the NAACP.
The protest comes on the heels of sometimes-violent demonstrations in Charlotte, North Carolina, over a recent police shooting of a black man there, and the decision Thursday by a county attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to charge a white female police officer in the shooting death of a black man last week; officials released the body-cam video of the latter shooting, which quickly went viral.
Maupin says his demonstration was already in the works, and is focusing on police shootings in Maricopa County, such as the July 9 shooting of 19-year-old Dalvin Hollins by Tempe police lieutenant Edward Ouimette. Tempe police say Hollins had just robbed a Walgreens and was believed to be armed. According to the department, Ouimette, a 19-year veteran of the force, was chasing Hollins on foot when Hollins turned around and pointed something at the officer. Ouimette fired one round, striking Hollins in the back. Hollins ran to a nearby maintenance shed, where he was later found dead. He was unarmed.
Hollins's death has been ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner, and Ouimette is on leave pending the outcome of the TPD's investigation into the shooting. Maupin has called the shooting unjustified and wants Ouimette fired.
"We want justice for Dalvin Hollins," Maupin tells New Times. "We want to highlight the other police brutality and fatal shootings that have gone on, and people want to reform it. They have a right to express themselves and to vent."
Maupin says the march will proceed up one bridge and down the other, with protesters blocking traffic on both. He promises the demonstration will be nonviolent, though he anticipates that some protesters may get arrested.
The Tempe Police Department has released a statement saying it is aware of the protest and has no plans to shut down the bridges or divert any traffic. The statement urges protesters to remain on the sidewalks and warns, "Anyone who chooses to interfere with traffic is subject to potential arrest and booking into jail."
There were no arrests for civil disobedience during Maupin's most recent staged event, at a busy crossroads in the Biltmore area of Phoenix on July 15. During that demonstration over police shootings, Maupin negotiated a deal with the Phoenix Police Department, wherein demonstrators briefly blocked 24th Street at Camelback Road before presenting a list of proposed reforms to acting police chief Joe Yahner.
By contrast, a "Rally for Justice" demonstration led by Maupin the week before turned hairy when Maupin bowed to the wishes of the protesters, promising to close down Interstate 10. Phoenix police blocked access to the freeway and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Three people were arrested for allegedly throwing rocks at officers.
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Maupin says he has had heard that the NAACP and some other local civil-rights groups will not participate in his "Moral Monday." But he says he's unconcerned. He notes that he is a card-carrying lifetime member of the NAACP (and he has the membership card to prove it) and says about 20 fellow NAACP members will participate in the demonstration as well.
"The people who are not there are never there," Maupin says of the naysayers. "It's cowardly. I don't know what they're afraid of."
He added: "We need it. This isn't some sleepy little hamlet with four blacks on the south side. This is the sixth-largest city in America, and we have real problems here."
A call to the Maricopa County NAACP was answered by a recording stating no one was available. A message seeking comment, sent through the county NAACP's website has so far received no reply.