Winner 2021

Politically Charged

ABC15 Arizona (KNXV)

Headlines everywhere scream: our democracy is in peril and the abuse of power is running rampant, unchecked, everywhere. But what does that actually look like? The team at ABC15 Arizona caught the erosion of our civil liberties in action with this compelling series about the arrests of several street protesters and the very questionable tactics used against them. The investigation found that, in 2020, Phoenix police and county prosecutors routinely exaggerated and lied to grand juries to obtain felony charges against protesters. The trumped-up charges included rioting, carrying umbrellas (classified as deadly weapons), and being members of a criminal street gang with “the same philosophy as the Bloods and the Crips.” In interview after interview, ABC15 reveals some had met only for the first time at the protest and had no prior criminal records. As a direct result of this series, 39 felony protest cases were dismissed, high- level officials resigned, the police chief was suspended, dozens of officers and prosecutors were reassigned, and the Department of Justice opened a sweeping pattern-of-practice investigation. For brilliantly shining a light on how far those in power are willing to go, and for producing effective, tangible results, “Politically Charged” wins a Peabody Award.


Network/Station/Platform:  ABC15 Arizona (KNXV). Executive Producer:  Shawn Martin. Producer:  Lauren Wilson. Reporters:  Dave Biscobing, Melissa Blasius. Photography:  Gerard Watson.