Valley agencies mobilize as protests continue, curfew takes effect

Posted 6/1/20

The curfew instituted by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has created a multitude of questions, but several police departments are assuring people that they can go as they please as long as nothing violent or criminal happens.

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Valley agencies mobilize as protests continue, curfew takes effect

Posted

The curfew instituted by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has created a multitude of questions, but several police departments are assuring people that they can go as they please as long as nothing violent or criminal happens.

Police agencies in Goodyear and Peoria have said they won’t be pulling over every vehicle that is out between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. through June 8. According to the declaration, traveling during those hours are prohibited unless people are engaged in certain activities, like getting food, visiting and caring for family or friends, and going to work.

“Certainly, those who are out and about on foot and loitering in places they don’t belong or in a suspicious manner or unlawful assembly, will be addressed,” Goodyear police Officer Lisa Berry stated.

The homeless won’t be penalized for being homeless, officials in Goodyear, Peoria and Tempe have said.

The curfew came amid several peaceful protests of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota that devolved into rioting and looting in Phoenix and Scottsdale over the weekend. The goal is to prevent criminal activity from happening, especially under the guise of a protest.

“This gives law enforcement an additional tool to prevent the lawlessness we’ve seen here and in cities nationwide,” Mr. Ducey stated Sunday about the curfew. “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.”

Despite the curfew, there were still people protesting after 8 p.m. Sunday in Phoenix, leading to hundreds of arrests and continued use of police tactics — flash bangs, tear gas, etc. — to disperse crowds. On Monday, people gathered downtown and stayed past curfew, but police on Tuesday morning said no arrests were made.

Along with the rioting and looting are rumors and concerns of people attempting to spread those acts into cities around the Valley. Police departments in Glendale and Surprise mobilized at multiple locations in order to deter would-be rioters.

Glendale police said they had officers at Arrowhead Towne Center and Westgate Entertainment District. The latter is still recovering from a May 20 shooting that injured three people. A police vehicle was seen outside AMC Theatres Monday morning.

Over in Surprise, social media posts warned of a potential for unlawful activity going on at the shopping centers near Bell Road and Grand Avenue. Multiple people — some armed — gathered in front of Ross in a means to protect businesses.

And down near Dysart Road and Grand Avenue, Guns Plus had its own “army” ready in case people tried to break in to steal firearms and other items.

Scottsdale police — amid their city’s multimillion-dollar troubles — said they had received information that threatened harm towards residences and women in the city. But they confirmed the message was unsubstantiated.

In a release, the FBI says it respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. However, at the same time they are committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.

"Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory," the agency states.

In turn, the FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting violent encounters surrounding the civil unrest in order to identify people who are actively instigating violence.

Submit information, media or tips at fbi.gov/violence or call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324).

Group questions curfew

In a statement, an official with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona said the curfew is an “extraordinary and sweeping measure that raises serious constitutional concerns.”

“Such actions restrict the rights of protesters and will undoubtedly lead to selective enforcement in Black and Brown communities,” stated Victoria Lopez, Advocacy and Legal Director ACLU of Arizona. “We urge the Governor and other elected officials across the state to seek a less restrictive approach and to meaningfully engage community leaders to address longstanding concerns with racist policing practices.”

The ACLU of Arizona says people of color should not have to live in fear of being killed by police.

“People across the country are rightfully demanding justice and accountability,” ACLU of Arizona stated. “The systemic racism in police agencies must end. Police violence and brutality against Black and Brown communities must end.

“People have the constitutional right to protest and record the police in public spaces. We call on state and local law enforcement to respect demonstrators’ First Amendment rights and avoid resorting to the use of force, including chemical agents and projectiles. The dangers of chemical agents like tear gas have been well-documented and the use of these materials is particularly egregious while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.”

Independent Newsmedia reached out to the ACLU of Arizona on their views of the rioting and looting that have happened and whether they undermine any attempts at peaceful protesting.

A breaking point

Thomas Knight and Marine Sharpe were two of eight people arrested Thursday night on the first day of protesting in downtown Phoenix.

In a phone interview with the Daily Independent Sunday afternoon, the couple said they went downtown to stand in solidarity with the protests going on in Minneapolis, mainly because the ex-officer charged in George Floyd’s death hadn’t been arrested yet.

“We just feel like it’s an issue that’s been persisting across the country for a very long time and it doesn’t seem like there’s any change,” Mr. Knight said about their decision to participate in the protest. “Not only in legislation, but also in the narrative about how we talk about this stuff. Whether or not we listen to the voices of those who were affected by it.”

The couple arrived downtown around 11 p.m. Thursday and were standing across from Phoenix police headquarters, where they said it was relatively peaceful.

However, Mr. Knight recalled people blocking an intersection and others throwing items at police. From there, an unlawful assembly was declared, and officers began to arrest people. Ms. Sharpe, who had been filming from her phone, said an officer pinned her between his shield and a pole and told her to leave. But she couldn’t move.

“Before we could really do anything else, a superior officer or someone said, ‘All right arrest these two,’” Ms. Sharpe told the Daily Independent. “And I don’t expect Thomas to abandon me when I’m just kind of pinned up.”

So around 20 minutes after arriving at the protest, Mr. Knight and Ms. Sharpe were in handcuffs. The couple then spent the next 22 hours in jail, an experience of its own that is leading them to file a formal complaint with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, as well as seek a sitdown with Sheriff Paul Penzone.

As for the protest, the couple said they’re not in a position to judge the actions of others, even when it comes to any violence, damage and looting that has persisted during some of the protests.

“For people who feel disenfranchised, who aren’t listened to when they protest peacefully or in socially acceptable ways, eventually it’s going to reach a breaking point,” Ms. Sharpe said. “For us personally, we never engage in violent activity. I’m white. I don’t experience police brutality in the same way a black person would. I wouldn’t reach that breaking point. I wouldn’t have reason to. I don’t think I would personally engage in anything violent, but I don’t necessarily blame people who do.”

Mr. Knight said he can only speak to what he’s personally comfortable with doing at protests but acknowledged that people are going to communicate their distress in different ways.

“The other thing that we have to keep in mind too is that peaceful protest is only effective if we’re being listened to,” Mr. Knight said. “At a certain point that expectation to remain peaceful and to protest properly becomes a tool of oppression. You see the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. used by people to oppress... And to discredit the woes of those who are affected... just because they aren’t protesting properly.”

Curfew affecting transportation

In wake of the curfew, Valley Metro will continue to provide service on a regular schedule to serve essential workers who need to travel.

However, if an area becomes unsafe, Valley Metro will adjust service — likely with little to no warning — adhering to the direction of public safety, according to a release.

“We do this for your safety and the safety of our staff and the surrounding community,” Valley Metro stated Sunday. “The last two nights we’ve detoured buses and suspended light rail service in downtown Phoenix.”

Riders are encouraged to pay attention to @valleymetro on Twitter or the AlertVM mobile app for notifications on potential delays and/or disruptions. And as always on transit, Valley Metro asks that people look out for themselves and others — if they see something, say something using the AlertVM app.

County officials respond to events

As protests continue to be monitored by authorities in case violence erupts, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel stated her office will hold those who choose to break the law accountable.

“The hurt and outrage expressed in the past several days demonstrates that there are many in our community who feel justice is out of reach and as a prosecutor, this is a sobering realization,” Ms. Adel stated. “I want to express my support of those who seek justice and stand by a person’s first amendment right to peacefully protest. However, this office will not tolerate the efforts of those who choose to use dangerous, destructive or lawless actions to demand justice.”

Sheriff Paul Penzone says MCSO and its deputies are doing everything possible to mitigate the potential danger to people and property.

“We are invested in your safety,” he stated. “This being said, our great county covers over 9,000 square miles and our staff are doing everything possible to work with public safety partners to suppress criminal looting and keep people safe who are at the center of dangerous unrest.

“I ask that you be vigilant to mitigate the threats to yourselves, personal property and any members of a vulnerable population. Please be alert and do not hesitate to call law enforcement if they are needed.”

Police adjusting to curfew

Departments in Avondale, Glendale, Goodyear, Peoria and Surprise were contacted regarding how they will enforce Mr. Ducey’s curfew and how they are preparing for any potential for looting and rioting in their cities.

Glendale police said they will be enforcing the curfew as it relates to anyone showing intentions that are not peaceful.

“We have pulled additional officers on duty to ensure we can handle any potential violent or rioting activity,” the department stated.

In addition, Chief Chris Briggs stated the violence taking place across the nation are “not only disheartening,” but “will not be tolerated.”

“As Americans we have the right to protest, what we ask is that we do so peacefully,” Mr. Briggs stated regarding the protests of George Floyd’s death. “You have the right to be upset, sad and even disappointed in what happened... but violence of any kind will not be tolerated... Our goal is to keep our community safe. We cannot do this alone, we need you to do your part to keep everyone safe.”

Surprise police Sgt. Greg Welch said the department is actively monitoring intelligence information regarding any potential incidents.

“We are coordinating with local and state partners and are prepared to respond as necessary to maintain the safety of our community,” Mr. Welch stated.

Ms. Berry said the Goodyear Police Department is prepared, aware of and monitoring threats, and is working with law enforcement agencies across the Valley to ensure public safety.

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