Wednesday, September 22, 2021 3:33 am

Black leaders say Ruben Gallego has dismissed and abandoned their community

A Gallego rally in Phoenix 2010 / FACEBOOK

By Laura Gomez | Arizona Mirror

When Ne’Lexia Galloway started her job as the Black outreach representative for U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego in January 2020, she thought that the Phoenix Democrat would listen to people that look like her. Fifteen months later, she felt used, and quit her job.

Galloway posted on Twitter that she left after concluding that Gallego, who is in his fourth term representing the Arizona congressional district with the largest Black population, had no actual interest in engaging his Black constituents. When mass arrests of protesters and controversial felony and gang-related prosecutions were taking place in Phoenix, the congressman failed to “speak up about the injustices that were occurring in his district to Black and Brown constituents,“ she wrote.

Galloway’s statement brought attention to the growing frustration Black community leaders have expressed about Gallego. Some call him anti-Black. Others said he does nothing for Black people. They wonder, does he do anything to represent them? 

For five months beginning in May 2020, thousands took to the streets in Arizona to protest the deaths of Black people at the hands of police: George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Dion Johnson in Phoenix, and scores of others whose names didn’t make headlines but died after encounters with law enforcement. Phoenix police officers arrested hundreds, sometimes on false felony charges and trumped up gang charges. Activists with local groups like Black Lives Matter Metro Phoenix and Mass Liberation Arizona denounced police for arresting protestors and lying on arrest documents, accusing Maricopa County of prosecuting political opponents. 

Those complaints, arrests and prosecutions are the heart of several federal lawsuits and a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department that was announced this month. 

Gallego responded to the DOJ investigation, saying the need to closely examine police policies, behaviors and reforms “has never been more clear.”

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