Fri, 23 Oct 2020

Volunteers Clean up After Some Arizona Protests Turn Violent

Voice of America
01 Jun 2020, 04:05 GMT+10

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - Volunteers were using shovels and brooms on Sunday to clean up broken glass outside at least five stores at an upscale mall in a Phoenix suburb damaged after a day of peaceful marches turned into a night of sometimes violent protests that included vandalism and an attack on a police station.

Protests have erupted in U.S. cities in the days after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.

On Saturday night, people knelt with their hands up in the streets outside Phoenix police and municipal buildings, chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Black lives matter." Officers used flash-bang grenades and dispersed the crowd shortly after 10 p.m., telling people it was an unlawful assembly.

In the upscale Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, some people smashed windows at stores including Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters, grabbing goods and damaging buildings.

Police had tweeted at 10:52 p.m. Saturday that an unlawful assembly had been declared after large groups appeared to damage and loot a number of stores in and around Scottsdale Fashion Square.

On Sunday morning, TV station video showed large holes punched in some store windows with the glass completely shattered in the front windows of other stores.

There were no immediate report of any arrests made or damage estimates.

Protests during daylight were largely peaceful in Phoenix and Tucson.

Friday's protest unfolded after a vigil for Dion Johnson, a 28-year-old black man who was fatally shot Monday during an encounter with state trooper along a Phoenix freeway. Around 15 downtown Phoenix buildings, including the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse, sustained broken windows, according to authorities. Protesters also slashed the tires of seven police SUVs and attempted to set one vehicle on fire. Two people were arrested.

Cleanup crews spent Saturday sweeping up broken glass and power-washing spray-painted buildings after Friday night protests.

Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that he and the state Department of Public Safety director respected protesters' rights to assemble.

"We will not, however, tolerate rioting, looting, violence, destruction of property or any behavior that endangers the safety or rights of other individuals," said Ducey, who made no mention of the deaths of Floyd or Johnson.

Johnson was shot during a struggle after a trooper found him passed out in his vehicle, authorities say. Phoenix police are investigating.

Johnson's mother, Erma, told the Arizona Republic that her son never would have engaged in a struggle with police, and she questioned the police account.

"It's a lot of things that I want to know that happened to my son in the last minutes of his life," she said.

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