Police Declare Protests 'Unlawful Assembly' as Demonstrations Escalate in Phoenix, Scottsdale

Tarrah Gibbons
May 31, 2020 - 10:20 am

Protests fell into chaos this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, over the deaths of Dion Johnson, a man who was shot and killed by DPS earlier this week, and George Floyd, who died in police custody this week in Minneapolis.

Rallies quickly escalated Friday night in the downtown area after a vigil for Johnson, with two arrested and damage done to property in downtown Phoenix, reported ABC15, an affiliate in Phoenix.

Protesters participated in demonstrations too for George Floyd, a man who died in police custody this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

While many protesters marched against police brutality, videos painted a picture of what the scene looked like those nights. Video showed some protesters break windows as some lit off fireworks at the Arizona Federal Theatre. Others can be seen vandalizing Phoenix police cars and shattering windows.

As the night continued, Phoenix police reported that people in the crowds started to throw bottles at officers and start small fires. Things got worse as people lit fireworks and damaged multiple city buildings.

The Phoenix Police Department took to Twitter to describe what was happening in the downtown area.

The caption read, “An Unlawful Assembly has been declared in the area around 6th Ave & Washington where demonstrators have been gathering. Due to criminal activity and a current danger to our community, people must leave the area including sidewalks, private property or roadways.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Police Chief Jeri Williams held a joint press conference to address the violence that happened the previous night.

Both officials urged the public that they would not tolerate this conduct going forward.

"To be clear, the level of criminal behavior we saw last night will not be tolerated today," Chief Williams said.

Later on Saturday night, on the third night of protests, demonstrators gathered downtown where officials reported that the National Guard was on standby if things got worse.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, things turned chaotic on Saturday night as large crowds of people stormed the Scottsdale Fashion Square and the Scottsdale Waterfront area. Demonstrators in the area began damaging businesses and restaurants, including P.F. Chang’s and the Apple Store.

Scottsdale police declared an “unlawful assembly,” while others continued to run across streets and the mall while continuing to damage properties.

Bryan Reynolds, public information officer for Scottsdale police, described the situation “disturbing” and said "peaceful protests are welcome...but vandalism and abusive behavior and stealing, theft, that's not protected."

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