W.E. Rising Project calls for change in police culture at Phoenix City Hall

Demonstrators in Phoenix reacted to the high-profile police shootings nationwide. Outside Phoenix City Hall, they were calling on the council to fund a new first responder unit that would focus on mental health.

"What we’re looking to do is create a department that takes care of the various nuances of mental, behavioral health, substances, things with the unsheltered community. Various calls for welfare checks to what is defined as non-violent crimes," said Jacob Raiford of the W.E. Rising Project.

Roy Holmes says he’s had "the talk" multiple times with his kids. And the 53 year old says he knows a lot of white parents don’t have the same one.

"Always, always. I let them know if you walking down the street. Police pull up, listen to them, follow directions, don’t argue don’t disagree. Don’t do nothing where they may take you away from me."

Whenever Holmes sees body camera video showing a police shooting and a Black person, he sees his own family.

"I hate to say this but.. it’s almost like society hate us, you know what I’m saying?"

Outside of Phoenix City Hall on April 15, about 50 to 100 people gathered calling for reform.

While last summer brought the rise of "defund the police," the W.E. Rising Project is bringing a new idea they would like to see funded this year: NOCAP Phoenix, or the neighborhood organized crisis assistance program, would be a separate entity made up of unarmed first responders. The unit would be dispatched first for non-violent and non-criminal calls.

"Police have a bloated budget. There’s plenty of resources, community resources that money could go towards. This is one of them," said Raiford.

In theory, its intention is to lessen the likelihood of violent outcomes, and maybe down the line, "the talk" doesn’t happen.

"I want the best for them.. I shouldn’t have to worry about burying them. I want them to bury me. Honestly," said Holmes.

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