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Phoenix activists stick to plan to rally against police shootings

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Organizers of a Phoenix civil rights vigil/rally planned before the fatal shootings of police in Dallas at a similarly-themed protest, said their Friday event would go on as scheduled.

Snipers shot and killed five Dallas police officers and wounded seven others Thursday night at a protest of the recent fatal police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The rally was set for 8 p.m. at City Hall, near Third Avenue and Washington Street. A Facebook post said the gathering was meant to “address racism, police brutality … and to demand … federal investigations into the slayings …”

“We have no intention of halting the march that we’ve planned,” local activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin said. “It’s a nonviolent demonstration.”

The rally was initially linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, but the group said later Friday that it would play no part in the protest and did not sanction the event.

“The Rev. Jarrett Maupin does not represent Arizona Black Lives Matter and his event is not sanctioned,” the group said in a release.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said that, for safety’s sake, he would like to see the rally moved to another day. However, he said he supports Phoenicians voicing their concerns over the nationwide relationship between police and the community.

“If the organizers choose to go forward and exercise their First Amendment rights tonight (Friday), the city of Phoenix will do everything in our power to make sure the public, and our police officers are safe,” he said in a release.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio asked for the rally be canceled.

“He was pretty adamant about going forward and I understand that, he has a First Amendment right. But there’s also a public safety issue right now,” DiCiccio said.

Maupin said other council members also asked that the event be called off.

“We’re committed to the nonviolent tradition of advocacy,” Maupin said. “We will not veer from that course of action.”

The rally, he said, was “anti-police brutality, anti-excessive force, misconduct, racial profiling and anti-racism. … we are not against the police.

“The people who harmed the police in Dallas were domestic terrorists, there is no room for that in this movement.”

The shooter has been identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25. He was killed after a standoff with police in a parking garage. Police sent in a robot armed with an explosive device, which was detonated.

Police Chief David Brown said Johnson told them he wanted to kill white officers.

The attack was the deadliest single day for law enforcement since Sept. 11.

Maupin does not foresee physical confrontations at the Phoenix event.

“We did not have violence in the city of Phoenix (after the police-involved deaths of Cleveland’s Tamir Rice or Baltimore’s Freddie Gray). We don’t want to see violence.”

The march will begin in earnest around 8:30 p.m. Protesters will set off from City Hall to police headquarters, continue to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and end in the Roosevelt District.

KTAR’s Jim Cross and Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

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