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Flagstaff Demonstrators Protest Police Violence Against Native Americans

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Ryan Heinsius
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Activists gathered in downtown Flagstaff Sunday to protest what they view as extreme police violence against minority populations including Native Americans. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they called for the firing of a Winslow police officer who shot and killed a Navajo woman in March.

The protestors marched through the streets, holding signs and blocking traffic. They demanded Officer Austin Shipley be removed from the Winslow Police Department after he shot Loreal Tsingine five times on a shoplifting call as she approached him with a pair of scissors. The protesters were escorted by the Flagstaff Police Department without incident.

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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Protesters outside the Coconino County Courthouse on Sun, Aug. 14.

“We are here to call for justice, we’re here to stand as a community,” says Klee Benally, one of the organizers of the demonstration. “It’s a very extreme exception that any of those officers who have killed black and brown people have faced any charges, or have been convicted.”

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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An outside investigation recently cleared Shipley of any criminal wrongdoing. The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, however, is conducting a review of the investigation. 

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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Police officers monitor the protest from the across the street in downtown Flagstaff.

According to a database compiled by the British newspaper the Guardian, 13 Native Americans have been killed by police in the U.S. this year. Nearly half were in Arizona.

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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Klee Benally on the bullhorn during a protest on Sun, Aug. 14.

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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Protesters outside the Coconino County Courthouse Sun, Aug. 14.

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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Protesters block Route 66 in downtown Flagstaff.

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Credit Ryan Heinsius
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Protesters in Heritage Square Sun, Aug. 14.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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