PHOENIX (AP/FOX 10) -- Protesters angered by a video of Phoenix officers who pointed guns and yelled obscenities at a black family they suspected of shoplifting crowded City Council chambers Wednesday to demand police reforms.
Scores of people began assembling about an hour before the regular meeting carrying signs and banners with slogans such as, "Fire the Police" and "Stop Police Brutality and Impunity."
Wednesday's City Council meeting was a regularly scheduled one, with more mundane issues on the agenda. However, members of the public had plenty to say.
It was quite the scene at Pilgrim Rest Church on Tuesday night. The lines were long and the pews were packed. The Town Hall had to start late in order to give people more time to get inside. Much of the crowd was made up of minorities, but not all. And there were a few people protesting, either wearing shirts with messages written on them and others holding signs about stopping police violence.
What they're upset about is the video that's now been seen around the world. Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper, and their children were stopped after a shoplifting report of a doll and some underwear. Phoenix Police were seen pointing guns and using forceful tactics, shouting profanities at the family. It has outraged many around the country and in this community, and today they're looking for answers.
"We are not here because of a shoplifting incident," one attendee said. "We are here because we are outraged at the conduct of Phoenix Police Officers."
Once the City Council meeting began, speakers called on the council to fire the officers involved in the videotaped incident and to set up a board of civilians to oversee changes in police department procedures.
"You cannot pass the budget until you fire the cops," resident Jennifer Hernandez told the council, who was scheduled to discuss the city's annual spending plan. "It is our lives on the line."
The protesters shouted down City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, calling him a racist when he defended the police officers.
"You are anarchists and you are out to destroy the city," DiCiccio told the demonstrators in the audience, which was met by shouts and booing.
Ames told councilmembers that he and his family "could have lost their lives over something senseless ... over a 4-year-old taking a doll." He said it is "sad" the officers are still employed.
Ames added, "I guess our lives are worth less than a 99-cent doll."