Protest in Phoenix over death of George Floyd ends in arrests, property damage

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 5/28/20

Hundreds of people in Phoenix gathered to protest the death of a man in Minnesota, but the event quickly turned violent with several properties damaged and people arrested.

On Thursday, Phoenix …

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Protest in Phoenix over death of George Floyd ends in arrests, property damage

Posted

Hundreds of people in Phoenix gathered to protest the death of a man in Minnesota, but the event quickly turned violent with several properties damaged and people arrested.

On Thursday, Phoenix police officers were monitoring a planned demonstration which began at 7 p.m. at Phoenix City Hall. From there, demonstrators marched throughout the downtown corridor, and ultimately arrived at the State Capitol around 9:15 p.m.

The protest was in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier in the week. Derek Chauvin, the now ex-officer who was seen in video kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd during an arrest attempt, is facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter after he and three other officers were fired.

Once at the State Capitol, police said demonstrators made attempts to enter the closed facility. When they could not gain entry, some attempted to damage property at the State Capitol, police said.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety was on scene and worked to disperse the crowd. The demonstrators then moved away from the Capitol and began throwing rocks and bottles at Phoenix officers, police said.

In addition, they damaged Phoenix police vehicles and took equipment from one of them, authorities said. TV news video of the scene showed a male break the back window of a patrol vehicle with a skateboard.

Officers deployed pepper spray toward those who were damaging vehicles, police said.

Around 10:50 p.m., police declared an unlawful assembly in English and Spanish, utilizing a Long Range Acoustic Device. Multiple announcements were made due to unlawful assembly and criminal behavior, police said.

As the night progressed, demonstrators walked back toward 7th Avenue and Washington Street, throwing rocks at the Phoenix Police Headquarters and damaging several personal cars parked in the area, police said.

The Phoenix Police Tactical Response Unit deployed and tried to dissuade them from continuing their activities. Officers deployed less lethal means, including OC Spray, bean bag rounds, and pepper balls.

By the end of the night, police arrested eight people, mostly for unlawful assembly. A driver was cited for civil traffic violations.

The arrested individuals are Marina Hope Sharpe, 25, and Thomas Alan Knight, 31 — Facebook profiles show they are in a relationship — Kristine Hester, 33 — who was seen on television being detained by police — Alaina Love Dewitt, 18, Asia Dawnae Tucker, 25, Lynn Marie Beasley, 27, Wendi Lee Scovell, 49, and Anthony Wayne Wallin, 46.

Police said a demonstrator was transported to a local hospital for precautionary reasons and has been released.

Also, two officers were transported for heat-related complications and were released.

In total, at least five fully-marked Phoenix police vehicles, several bus stops, and windows at Phoenix Police Headquarters and the Arizona Industrial Commission were damaged.

The Phoenix protest was organized by All Black Lives Matter Arizona and Jarrett Maupin.

The group is not affiliated with Black Lives Matter Phx Metro, which put out a statement on Facebook accusing Mr. Maupin and his group of leading protesters “into dangerous situations without regard for safety or legal consequences.”

Phoenix police Chief Jeri Williams spoke about the incident Friday morning (see below).

“Unfortunately, the actions of a small group of individuals changed that peaceful protest to one that was criminal,” Ms. Williams said.

On Friday morning, the broken windows at the Phoenix police headquarters were boarded up, and workers used sanders to scrape graffiti from sidewalks.

According to Dan Wilson, director of the Phoenix Police Public Affairs Bureau, unlawful assembly is when a group of people are involved in criminal activity and are posing a danger to themselves or others. He said the incident commander makes this determination to protect the security and safety of everyone in the area.

When possible, those in the vicinity will hear a message over a loud speaker and given time to disperse. There may be situations where immediate police intervention is needed, Mr. Wilson stated. Those who remain in the area, including those on private property, roadways or sidewalks after an unlawful assembly is declared are subject to arrest. The declaration is not targeted to specific individuals such as demonstrators or people acting in unlawful ways. It applies to everyone in the area for the safety of all, Mr. Wilson stated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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