A video showing Mesa police officers viciously beating a man was recently released, igniting anger across Arizona. The minute-long video, recorded on an apartment complex surveillance camera, shows Robert Johnson, a young, Black man, peacefully engaging with Mesa Police who at one point began punching Johnson and throwing him to the floor with no apparent provocation after having patted him down and found him to be unarmed. After the flurry of blows, Johnson appears to slump to the ground unconscious before being slammed face down on the ground, at which point the video ends.
The video, submitted to local media by a member of the community, has refocused attention on the racism and violence endemic in Mesa PD. Chief Batista claimed to be unaware of the incident until receiving the video, which suggests that the police involved either lied in their own reporting of the incident or Batista himself is lying to the public now. How many more beatings have been swept under the rug by the racist Mesa PD thugs when the cameras were off? We know from recent department history that this is far from unusual.
Last year a video surfaced showing Mesa PD unloading an assault rifle into an unarmed man at an area motel.The officer behind this killing was also filmed brutally beating customers at a local convenience store. Despite the horrific footage of this shooting, local police across the Phoenix region have been engaged in gross political strutting since the Parkland massacre by permitting officers to carry their own assault rifles and even providing them outright to members of the force.
Community members and leaders have demanded accountability from these officers and a change to the culture of extreme violence that runs rampant through Mesa and other Arizona police forces. While three officers and a sergeant have been suspended pending investigation of this incident, it is essential to continue to struggle against the racist police violence that is a fact of life across the U.S., and particularly in communities of color.
The reality is if Johnson had attacked these cops in the manner in which he was attacked, he would be in prison for years if he were lucky enough to survive the encounter. Administrative leave is not enough. We call for the immediate arrest of the officers now!