Civil rights activist describes alleged police brutality as 'Jim Crow butt-kicking'
Posted July 5
MESA, AZ — Local civil rights activist the Rev. Jarrett Maupin is hosting a news conference Wednesday to shed light on what he calls a case of police brutality and share his plans for a protest that will "paralyze streets in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa."
The protest is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mesa Police Department headquarters.
The precipitating event involves a man named Jason Michael Barton who "was assaulted by officers" on Monday, June 19.
"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," according to a news release by Maupin. "Barton was unarmed and posed no threat to the officers, himself, or the public."
The entire incident was captured on video by Jonathan Jimenez, whom Maupin described as a good Samaritan. The clip Maupin sent us is short -- 35 seconds -- and there is no real context for what it shows.
[WATCH: Alleged police brutality by Mesa officers]
Maupin said Wednesday that he was "thankful" Jimenez was able to capture video of the incident, describing it as "reminiscent of [the beating of] Rodney King in Los Angeles [in 1992]."
"I'd like to thank God that my son, Jason, is alive," Tina Barton said. "My son has endured police brutality since the age of 14. ... When is the violence going to stop?"
"This is not the first time, this is not the second time, not the third time, not the fourth time, it's not the fifth time -- we can count into the 20s that I've been in handcuffs just for the most tedious of things," Barton said. "Being stereotyped, being brutalized that way I've been over the years, it's a way to make a person go from being one of the most happiest people on this planet to trying to really create a new murderer. And that's what they're doing.
"We need to stop this," Barton continued. "We're destroying families. We're destroying relationships. We're destroying people's jobs so the Police Department can feed their kids and take off our kids' plates."
"My dad's dead from the same stuff," he said, explaining that he himself has two children. "I do good things. I stay out of trouble because I gotta be an example for my son."
Barton described what happened the night of June 19, saying he believes, from his experience, that the officers had a certain look and were in "attack mode."
"I can tell when there's eyes that's ready to attack and they're in attack more," he said. "It's predetermined -- already."
Barton said he's sure he was not walking against the light and insists he was not doing anything wrong.
"They [the officers] got out the car ready to whip some ass," he said in answer to a reporter's question about whether the police gave him any commands. "Right now, I'm surprised I'm not getting arrest for talking."
"The punishment for jaywalking is not a Jim Crow butt-kicking on the street," Maupin said. "There's no explanation for [the officers'] behavior. ... There's no narrative that's gonna fly here that the cell phone was a gun or a knife."
"This is a textbook case of police brutality," Maupin said in a news release ahead of the news conference. "The excessive forces officers used for this alleged jaywalking offense is shocking and disgusting."
"We will be protesting to demand that these officers be immediately fired," Maupin continued. "Their actions fly in the face of department training and, without question, violate policies and procedures for interacting with law abiding and peaceful citizens.
"There will be no peace in Mesa until there is justice," he continued. "Until there is acknowledgement [sic] of, accountability for, and immediate action taken to address the factual institutional and systemic racism within the ranks of the Mesa police department [sic] this city will be unsafe and unstable."
Maupin used Wednesday's news conference to lay out his plan and goals for the "non-violent rally that will include acts of civil disobedience."
"We are embarking on what I think is an ambitious plan to cause gridlock and shut down major arterial streets in the city," he said, flanked by Barton and Barton's mother, Tina. "Because they chose to beat Jason for jaywalking, we are bringing in hundreds of black people to jaywalk in the city of Mesa. ... We intend to push the limits in Mesa tomorrow night."
The Mesa Police Department has not commented on the incident or Maupin's planned protest.