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.
Protesters marched the streets of downtown Phoenix and Tucson Saturday after the cities’ leaders implored them to refrain from violence.
The marches appeared to be largely peaceful, according to local media reports. On Saturday night, however, Phoenix police had to defend the department’s headquarters.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Phoenix police said a large group of protesters downtown had become an unlawful assembly, the Arizona Republic reported. The police said they needed to disperse immediately.
The protesters were seen kneeling with their hands up in the streets outside Phoenix police and municipal buildings, the Republic reported. They chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter.”
Phoenix police stood in full riot gear outside the front entrance of the police department headquarters with the sound and smoke of numerous flash-bang grenades, the newspaper reported.
In Scottsdale, damage was reported late Saturday night at Fashion Square mall, the Republic reported Windows were seen busted out of multiple stores around the mall, including Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters, the newspaper reported. Scottsdale police said the area sustained property damage.
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.
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.