- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2020

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams vowed to keep working with community protesters after marching with them from City Hall to police headquarters on Friday.

“I am beside myself with disbelief and joy at the voices of this generation making the voices of my generation be silent and listen to what you are saying,” Williams, who is black, said in front of a large crowd gathered in 106-degree heat.

“Our commitment to you … is that this isn’t just a bunch of protests and we’re gonna sit at home and everything remains the same. What happens is we’re gonna work together, we’re going to look at policies,” Williams said.

The crowd largely cheered, although some protesters could be heard dissenting loudly. Others implored them to be peaceful and listen.

Williams joins other police chiefs around the country who have said they are open to working with the community after the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis last week. The death of Floyd, a black man, after a white officer who has since been charged with murder pressed his knee against his neck for over 8 minutes sparked nationwide protests and unrest.

In Santa Cruz, California, Chief Andrew Mills took a symbolic knee with protesters. Houston police Chief Art Acevedo has participated in marches, at one point telling protesters he was angry, too.

But troubles at the Phoenix Police Department are anything but new.

In 2017, the police came under scrutiny for its a ggressive approach against hundreds of people who were protesting a rally by President Donald Trump. Immigrant rights groups filed a lawsuit, which is ongoing.

Police have also come under fire for the high number of civilians that officers have killed while on duty.

On Thursday, the 2017 death of a black man after he was forced to the ground by Phoenix police came to light after an attorney for the man’s family compared it to Floyd’s killing. The Phoenix Police Department and Daniel O’Connor, a lawyer defending the officers, declined to comment on the case.

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