by Jack Burns, The Free Thought Project: Getting accused of jaywalking, as a slew of recent videos shows, can be a dangerous or even deadly experience for people, especially if they have dark skin.
Mesa, AZ — A major protest against police brutality will occur Thursday evening to be held outside police headquarters in Mesa after cell phone footage surfaced showing Mesa Police giving a man a beat down for allegedly crossing the street the wrong way — jaywalking. The cell phone footage shows Jason Michael Barton getting manhandled by two Mesa police officers.
Predictably, Mesa police are blaming the victim for the officers’ use of force, but community leaders like Reverend Jarrett Maupin aren’t buying it. And they say the community is outraged.
It all started June 19, when two Mesa police officers claim they witnessed Barton crossing the street while the hand was solid red, indicating it is not safe to cross. The two-man team of officers then did a u-turn to confront Barton. That’s when they say Barton attempted to run away.
At a press conference, Mesa PD Spokesperson Det. Steve Berry told reporters body camera footage shows Barton was directed to speak with officers but chose to run instead. Barton told reporters he’d turned around to attempt to activate the video recording function on his cell phone.
Berry continued saying Barton struggled with the two officers and was resisting arrest, all the while reaching for something in his pockets. He also said Barton removed a baggie of marijuana and rubbed it into the concrete attempting to destroy it.
Cell phone footage shot by onlooker Jonathan Jimenez only shows a screaming young man who was being punched, kneed in the head, and beaten by two police officers who were screaming for him to “stop resisting.”
Late on Wednesday Mesa police released body camera footage from the incident, which appears to show Barton attempting to flee. Later, at the precinct, he told police the reason he ran was that he was in possession of cannabis. Most of what happens in the body camera footage is entirely blurred out and getting a real grasp of what happened is difficult.
But it will be up to Barton’s defense attorney to attempt to demonstrate the stop was, from the onset, unjustified, and police had no right to arrest a man who was simply walking down the sidewalk.
The reason police say they stopped him was for jaywalking, but instead of getting a citation for the alleged criminal activity (a misdemeanor), Barton got a beating instead.
He says his beating is the latest in a long history of harassment by Mesa PD and that police are historically crafty in the way they trump up charges against him.
As an example, he says one officer was holding his hand on one side, while the other officer was pulling on the same arm on the other, preventing him from offering his hands so they could be cuffed. As TFTP recently reported, officers will yell “stop resisting,” which fools onlookers into feeling sympathy for police, then they struggle with the suspect, escalating the use of force and thereby incriminating an otherwise compliant suspect.
While Barton was careful in his word choice with reporters, Rev. Maupin didn’t hold back. One could say he had some very strong words for Mesa PD.
Maupin issued a statement which reads in part;
During the nighttime encounter, which police claim was sparked by Barton illegally crossing a street, officers can be seen repeatedly and viciously punching, kicking, and beating Barton after throwing him to the ground…Barton was unarmed and posed no threat to the officers, himself, or the public