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Phoenix police sees Black Lives Matter as a ‘partner’

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**Embargo: Phoenix, Az** The Phoenix Black Lives Matter group hosted a forum, featuring a panel which included top city and community leaders.

PHOENIX, Az. — The Phoenix Black Lives Matter group hosted a forum, featuring a panel which included top city and community leaders.

An overflow crowd filled Phillips Memorial CME Church Monday night.

“The Phoenix Police Department doesn’t see Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization. We view Black Lives Matter as a partner who holds us accountable,” Assistant Police Chief Mike Kurtenbach told the diverse crowd.

“We stand with you to find solutions,” he said.

The Phoenix Black Lives Matter group hosted a forum, featuring a panel which included top city and community leaders.

The Phoenix Black Lives Matter group hosted a forum, featuring a panel which included top city and community leaders.

The discussion hit on transparency, diversity, and training in Phoenix and other police departments.

“If you want to improve policing, become an officer! We’re hiring,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton told the crowd.

“We want our police department to be as diverse as our community,” he added.

Stanton said Phoenix will hire 400 officers over the next two years.

Stanton was joined by Dr. Matthew Whitaker, Amanda Blackhorse, Clottee Hammons, Richard Crews, Stephen Benedetto, and Vice Mayor Kate Gallego.

The Phoenix Black Lives Matter group is separate from the one that has led protests through Phoenix city streets two Fridays in a row.

Last Friday, activists gathered at 24th Street and Camelback, protesting what they call racially-biased policing. The Rev. Jarrett Maupin organized the event. He is pushing back against police brutality and pushing for a 12-point reform plan.

On June 8, a downtown Phoenix rally organized by Maupin ended with police deploying their pepper spray at a crowd of hundreds. Police ended up arresting three people for allegedly throwing rocks at officers.

“This isn’t about division; this isn’t about thinking differently and being on opposite sides of the street. This is about coming together,” said Kurtenbach.