Peaceful but passionate anti-police brutality protests continued for the seventh straight night in central Phoenix on Tuesday after police officials there named the white officer who shot and killed Rumain Brisbon, an unarmed black father of four.
Rine shot Brisbon while responding to a call about possible drug dealing by two men in a black Cadillac sport utility vehicle. The officer reportedly mistook a pill bottle in the unarmed man’s pocket for a gun, although police claim a weapon was found in the SUV after the shooting.
Brisbon’s friends and family, including friend Brandon Dickerson — who was with him at the time of the deadly incident — said he was in the process of bringing dinner home to his family.
A group of several dozen demonstrators holding signs and chanting slogans like “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter” rallied and marched peacefully through downtown Phoenix, blocking train tracks and staging ‘die-ins’ outside the US Airways Center during a Phoenix Suns basketball game. The protesters demanded Officer Rine’s “badge, gun and job” and said they would press the issue at an upcoming City Council meeting on December 17.
Tuesday’s protest began at the Phillips Memorial CME Church, where Pastor Reginald Walton called for “institutionalized love” to replace institutionalized racism. Numerous community members and faith leaders addressed the small but determined gathering, venting their frustrations and calling for change.
Brandon Dickerson, the last friendly face Brisbon saw before his death, insisted his slain friend “was not a criminal.”
“He was a person like you and me,” he said. “The man went to McDonald’s to get food for his kids.”
Dickerson called Brisbon’s killing “an ambush” and said “there was no way to see the cops coming.”
Tony Pullin, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, said he was protesting “for his son.”
“I don’t want to see my son get shot,” said Pullin, who said he has been a victim of racial profiling.
“I have been to jail due to profiling because the cops were looking for someone with dreadlocks, and I haven’t a dread on my head,” said Pullin, who said his wife has been brutalized by police.
While some, especially older people, believe change will result from working within the system, others said a new approach is needed to tackle the enduring scourge of racism.
“We can’t get justice by using the same system that’s destroying us,” asserted Talib Rasul, 29. “The prison industrial complex is real, and it’s growing, and the pipeline is funneling brown and black men into the penitentiary.”
Tuesday’s protesters dispersed after marching to and from Phillips Memorial CME Church on 14th Street. There was reportedly one arrest away from the main march, where a young woman was apprehended under uncertain circumstances and another was allegedly brutalized by officers while recording the arrest.
The woman, who did not want her name reported, was shoved or slammed to the ground. She said she believes her friend was targeted because she has been a familiar face leading the anti-brutality protests over the past week.