Rev. Jarrett Maupin plans protest to block Mill Avenue bridge in Tempe

Rev. Jarrett Maupin announced moves to protest the deaths of two African Americans by blocking the Mill Avenue bridge over Tempe Town Lake. The protest is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26. (Photo by Alexa Stueckrath/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an activist who led a summer march in Phoenix to protest police brutality, is organizing a Monday protest to block the Mill Avenue bridge over Tempe Town Lake.

Maupin organized a July protest in Phoenix which ended in the Phoenix Police Department deploying tear gas on protesters after they left the planned route. The Tempe protest should not end in violence, he said.

The protest, starting 9 a.m. Monday, is to mark the shootings of two African-Americans, Dalvin Hollins in July by Tempe police and Michelle Cusseaux in 2014 by a Phoenix sergeant, Maupin said.

Tempe police, in a statement, said they hope the protest is peaceful and will not allow traffic to be blocked.

“The Tempe Police Department is aware of the potential protest set for Monday and we support those who choose to peacefully share their concerns. We are hopeful and anticipate it will be a peaceful protest and are urging protesters to remain on sidewalks to give them a safe place to express their message. We will have contingency plans in place should they be required. There are no plans on the part of the City to divert or shut down traffic. Anyone who chooses to interfere with traffic is subject to potential arrest and booking into jail,” the statement read.

The key to solving conflict between police and their respective communities is rooted in education, he said. Maupin said more communication between police officers could have prevented the misunderstanding which led to Hollins’ death.

Tempe police looking for a robbery suspect chased Hollins. An off-duty officer who joined the chase shot Hollins after seeing what he believed was a firearm, according to news reports. The officer was wearing a body camera but did not turn it on.

“I don’t blame the cops that were chasing Dalvin Hollins,” he said. “I blame the officer that left his easy chair, jumped in his car and killed someone.”

Maupin’s activism is mainly in Phoenix but he said Hollins’ situation shows the need to reach out to Tempe residents. The Mill Avenue bridge is a symbolic choice.

“It’s the gateway to Tempe — it’s the front door to the city,” he said. “That’s where downtown is, the seat of government, the police department.”

The lieutenant who shot Hollins is on administrative leave and has since been demoted, according to

Cusseaux, a mentally-ill woman, was shot to death in August 2014 when she answered the door with a claw hammer over her head. The Phoenix police sergeant who shot her had been called to take her to a treatment facility, according to Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner later ordered the sergeant’s demotion, agreeing with an internal review board’s recommendation, said. It is unclear whether the sergeant appealed that decision.

A string of police shootings of African-Americans has ignited protest and sparked social-media debates across the country. On Thursday, a Tulsa officer was charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. Violent protests have marked Charlotte, N.C., after the fatal police shooting of Keith L. Scott.

Maupin said his end-game is to foster conversation between people of differing ideologies, rather than have a protest simply for the sake of a protest.

“Different conversations take place there that wouldn’t happen in common locales,” he said. “You get different people together and, even if they’re debating, they’re still communicating. I think that’s what’s going to fix this in the long run.”