Phoenix Police: Officers Were Attacked Outside Trump Rally, Pepper Spray Used To Disperse Crowd

By  Michel Marizco, Matthew Casey, Casey Kuhn
Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 12:46am
Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 12:35pm

Phoenix police push crowds of protesters away from the convention center following the end of Trump's rally.
(Photo by Jackie Hai - KJZZ)

Phoenix police say they arrested four people at Tuesday night’s Trump rally. And the fire department said they treated about 60 people for heat related illnesses.

Tensions rose outside the Phoenix Convention Center after the rally was over.

The activist group Puente led anti-Trump protesters to the convention center around 4:30 p.m. Police ushered them into place behind barricades on the north side of Monroe Street. On the south side, the group Bikers for Trump looked out for the president’s supporters as they waited to go in the convention center.

"Well, you won’t see our guys engaging with protesters in screaming and shouting matches," said Chris Cox, founder of Bikers For Trump. "In the event some of these Trump supporters don’t feel safe afterward, we’ll escort them to their car."

Chris Cox, founder of Bikers For Trump.
(Photo by Jackie Hai - KJZZ)

After the rally, people exited the convention center near 2nd and Adams streets where they were greeted by a handful of protesters.

Julie Anand said she came out to participate in democratic protest.

"I have a sense that things are moving backwards. I feel like we were in a more compassionate place, a more progressive place. And within days of the inauguration, things started feeling different," said Anand.

Trump supporter Ingrid Maynes smiled and waved as she walked by protesters.

"Yes, I said thank you for showing up. Only in America," said Maynes.

If she had stopped to talk with the protesters, Maynes said she would have told them the rally was about unity.  

"We’re one country. We’re all Americans. We want jobs," she said.

But unity was not on people’s minds one block north. The peaceful protest soon devolved into turmoil.

Protesters started marching toward the Arizona Capitol. At that point, police said officers were attacked with rocks and bottles and the crowd began to run.

Then police fired flash bang grenades and pepper balls at the crowd. People ran through the heavy fog, some screaming and others vomiting. One person was injured and carried into a building.

People were affected by pepper spray near Central Avenue and Monroe Street in downtown Phoenix.
(Photo by Jackie Hai - KJZZ)

A police helicopter flew over the dispersing crowd with a message over loudspeaker:

"This is the Phoenix Police Department. If you can hear my voice, it is time to leave the area immediately. If you do not, you will be subject to arrest and you will be pepper sprayed."

The crowd dispersed but lingered as the police marched north in riot gear up 2nd Street.

Rachel Stoneburner was protesting with indigenous solidarity group Arizona Stands. She said she was hit with projectiles and pepper spray.

“I never been in anything like this. It’s just wrong, it’s just so wrong. It’s inhumane as possible for them just to like, just to get us out of there they could have just marched towards us,” said Stoneburner.

Taric Watts was one of those leaving as the helicopter was overhead.

"I think that the spotlight is on Phoenix right now and it’s time for all people to come together," said Watts. "We had Latino movements, black movements, LGBT movements, trans movements. Everyone was there making sure their voices were heard and that’s what we need more of in a city that is this conservative."

Two people were arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer. A third was arrested for criminal damage and a fourth for an existing warrant.

Police estimate tens of thousands came downtown for the rally, and no one was seriously injured.

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