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Fourth Night Of Protests Mostly Peaceful, Ends Early Following Statewide Curfew

By Scott Bourque, Michel Marizco, Tom Maxedon, Harry Croton, Tim Agne, Steve Goldstein, Lauren Gilger
Associated Press
Published: Saturday, May 30, 2020 - 11:01am
Updated: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 12:21pm

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The crowd of demonstrators marches down 6th Avenue in Phoenix.
Scott Bourque/KJZZ
The crowd of demonstrators marches down Sixth Avenue in Phoenix during a demonstration against police violence May 31, 2020.

The death of 46-year old George Floyd in Minneapolis this week has sparked several protests in the Phoenix area and around Arizona.

While Floyd was top of mind for protesters nationwide, activists in Phoenix marched for a different man — 28-year-old Dion Johnson, who died after being shot by an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper Monday.

→ Arizona Voices: Race, Diversity And The Black Lives Matter Movement

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday’s demonstrations started a little earlier than previous nights, with people congregating downtown around 6 p.m. For most of the night, it remained peaceful, with activists giving speeches to the crowd of hundreds — if not thousands — of demonstrators.

Before the demonstration turned into a march, several protesters gathered around Phoenix Police Community Relations Commander Tina Gonzales and engaged in a passionate, and sometimes angry, but peaceful discussion of police-community relations.

“You guys were ready for war,” one demonstrator said, referring to the police presence at peaceful protests over the weekend. “We were unarmed. We were peaceful protesters, and the way that you police received us, you guys are ready for war. And the question is, how are we supposed to trust the police department?”

“Why shouldn’t you trust the police department?” Gonazles replied, to jeers from the crowd.

“I can give you a list of thousands of names, and each one of those names is a reason why the public doesn’t trust the police,” the demonstrator said. “Not once have you acknowledged, all you say is ‘we’re working on it, we’re working on it, we’re working on it.’”

Although Gonzales didn’t say much to appease the crowd, she took contact information from several protesters and promised to follow up with them individually.

Shortly after that exchange, the crowd began its march up Fifth Avenue. They were met by officers in riot gear near Fillmore street.

Once the 8 p.m. curfew went into effect, officers began ordering the crowds to disperse, occasionally using flash bangs.

By around 8:30, it seemed like the crowds had mostly thinned out.

There were a handful of resisters who faced tear gas near Seventh Street and Roosevelt, and by 10 p.m., officers were arresting anybody who remained in the area.

Ducey Declares Emergency

In response to the looting and vandalism over the weekend, Gov. Doug Ducey on Twitter announced a statewide declaration of emergency with an 8 p.m. curfew beginning Sunday and effective for one week.

Ducey Says Local Leaders Requested Curfew, But Who Are They?

“This gives law enforcement an additional tool to prevent the lawlessness we’ve seen here and in cities nationwide,” Ducey's thread continued. "Police will be equipped to make arrests of individuals who are planning to riot, loot or cause damage and unrest.

“Today’s declaration also authorizes an expanded National Guard mobilization to protect life and property throughout the state. Our office will continue to communicate with local law enforcement to provide whatever resources we can,” he said.

Following the announcement, Ducey released the full declaration. The curfew lasts from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through the morning of Monday, June 8 and lists the following exemptions:

    1. All law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics or other medical personnel, National Guard, as well as any other emergency response personnel authorized by the State of Arizona, and credentialed members of the media.
    2. Individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.

Violating the curfew is a Class 1 misdemeanor with penalties up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Border Patrol Deployed Into U.S.

The country’s largest law enforcement agency, Customs and Border Protection is deploying agents into the U.S.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Twitter that the deployment of CBP agents came at the request of federal and local law enforcement “confronting the lawless actions of rioters.” 

Morgan gave no specifics about which cities border agents would be deployed to or whether they’d engage in immigration checks while during the deployments.

The deployment also signals a major shift at the border. Legal traffic has been reduced to only essential travel and illegal crossings are at a historic low, but at the same time, CBP has been understaffed for several years, especially in Arizona.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

After a third night of demonstrations in downtown Phoenix, police declared an unlawful assembly and began arresting demonstrators.

The peaceful protesters dispersed leaving rioters, vandals, and journalists clashing with Phoenix Police downtown Saturday night into early Sunday morning.

Officers used rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bangs on the crowd. Several members of the media reported being attacked by the police, despite the department’s promises to respect press freedom.

Phoenix police declared an unlawful assembly at around 10:20 p.m., and rioters stayed on the streets until 3:30 a.m.. More than 100 people were arrested on charges of unlawful assembly and assaulting a police officer.

One officer was injured, according to the department.

In Scottsdale, damage was reported late Saturday night at Fashion Square mall. The Arizona Republic reported windows were seen busted out of multiple stores around the mall, including Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters.

The Scottsdale Police Department issued a statement saying that “officers are on scene dealing with large numbers of citizens, some of whom have chosen to commit criminal acts. Peaceful assembly is a protected activity. Criminal acts are not. This has now been declared an unlawful assembly. All people should avoid the area or risk arrest,” KPNX TV reported.

Scottsdale Police Sgt. Bryan Reynolds told KNXV TV Sunday that officers kept their distance.

“That’s our first intention if what we’re dealing with is mostly property damage and property crimes, we can always follow up with the offenders later on,”
 Reynolds said. “The first step we need to take is to protect life first, property second.”

Reynolds said the police department was alerted to possible unrest in Scottsdale via social media posts late Saturday afternoon.

Earlier Saturday, the mayors of Phoenix and Tucson said some protesters caused extensive and unnecessary property damage Friday night. In Phoenix, cleanup crews swept up broken glass in front of boarded-up doors and windows and used a power-wash to remove spray-painted messages on a building.+

Protesters kneel with their hands in the air in front of Phoenix Police headquarters.
Scott Bourque/KJZZ
Protesters kneel with their hands in the air in front of Phoenix Police headquarters during a protest Friday, May 29, 2020.

Friday, May 29, 2020

After holding space at a vigil in a nearby park, the crowd of hundreds was met with tear gas and rubber bullets launched by officers in riot gear in front of the Phoenix Police headquarters.

For much of the night, protesters kept a distance from officers, who called for the crowd to disperse but didn’t declare an unlawful assembly until people in the crowd began throwing empty water bottles at officers.

Around midnight, several people were seen on television video breaking windows in government buildings and a downtown theater. Police moved in and began dispersing the rock-throwers.

Vandals broke dozens of windows and doors and damaged eight police SUVs.

“We had criminal damage at at least 18 different properties with windows and doors destroyed, graffiti on multiple buildings, damage to multiple vehicles," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said. "The cost of these repairs will likely be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Protesters and Phoenix police officers during a protest.
Scott Bourque/KJZZ
Protesters and Phoenix police officers during a protest on May 29, 2020.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Eight arrests were made Thursday night when a small group of protesters began damaging public property.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin says the goal of the demonstrations is to get the message across with nonviolence.

“I do believe that rioting is the language of the oppressed, and I have empathy — I can understand their rage," Maupin said. "But at the same time, I can't condone it. Not what we have so many options for powerful nonviolent civil disobedience and powerful, direct action.”

Maupin will head to Minneapolis with other Arizona residents on June 7 to take part in a larger, nationwide demonstration.

Politics Race + Diversity