On Wednesday, 35 Hispanic Pastors came to City Hall for a meeting to discuss the "Bathroom Bill" and the fact that religious institutions would now be subject to criminal penalties along with every single business owner in Phoenix. Instead of being treated with the same respect any other group is afforded, they were treated to an unexpected visit from Phoenix Police. Yes, somebody called the police on a quiet, peaceful meeting of Pastors. I was there and saw the police come to break up the meeting.
The "Bathroom Bill" has been a serious concern for not just the religious and business communities, but for families with small children, as well. It allows for grown men to be in the girl’s bathroom at playgrounds and restaurants in our city. This is just like the food tax - done behind closed doors, rushed through at the last minute, lacking transparency and now attacking those individuals that disagreed with how it was done. Now...it’s even worse. Now they are calling the police on those who don’t agree with their position.
Really? Police are called on a group of Pastors who were exercising their First Amendment rights to talk with their government?
Today, these Pastors met with City Manager David Cavazos, Councilman Michael Nowakowski and myself to find out the following: 1) why were the police called on the Pastors; 2) who asked for the police; 3) what was specifically said to them to make them believe the Pastors were a threat. The meeting went well and the City Manager is following through on the request.
My issue is not with the police; they did their job. The real question is why were they called in the first place and who was the staffer who called them? Does this qualify as a false police report - giving the police the impression an activity is happening when in fact it is not? Had I not been there and witnessed first hand the events of Wednesday, I wouldn't have believed it. Police will be doing interviews and we are expecting a written report in the next week.
According to preliminary reports from Police, Facilities Manager Mike Jankowski is the individual who called Police. What the City Manager will be reviewing is what specifically caused him to believe Pastors were a threat. Was it their skin color, their size, their language, were the questions raised in the meeting?
I feel confident the City Manager will hold Mr. Jankowski accountable, if indeed he was the (sic) responsible for the Police presence. And, if staff is correct in their initial comments, the public will be holding him accountable as well.