Reverend Jarrett Maupin released a statement regarding the protest rally held in downtown Phoenix Friday night.
“First, let me thank the Phoenix Police Department for their extraordinary public service,” Maupin said. “Particulary, Chief Yahner who was present and accessible throughout the demonstration. Secondly, let me thank the over 1,000 people who showed up to rally and march, and did so, in a spirit of nonviolence and peace.”
The protest in Phoenix was a result of the shootings earlier in the week across the country. Five police officers were killed and seven more were injured in Dallas on Thursday night.
“The march was successful,” Maupin added. “It was nonviolent. Three people threw rocks, but no officers or marchers were injured. Six people suffered very minor reactions to exposure to what has been reported as two to three shots of pepper spray, including some members of the media. Again, no police or marchers were hospitalized.”
Police began deploying tear gas around 11:30 p.m. and told protesters to disperse.
Prior to the tear gas, police blocked on-ramps leading to the Interstate 10 to prevent protesters to gain access. According to the reverend, the protesters did not have any intention of marching on the freeway.
“In addition to marching on city hall, police headquarters and the county attorney’s office, marchers successfully closed a portion of the I-10 freeway,” Maupin explained. “Last night in Atlanta, Georgia and in other cities during past demonstration, the public interstates is often a target of protesters. In Phoenix, our mission was to peacfully disrupt traffic and business as usual to highlight the horrors and reality of police brutality, excessive and deadly force, racial profiling and other negative issues in modern policing. We never intended to actually march on the interstate. The goal of organizers was to threaten that action and we believed that the threat would facilitate the closure of the freeway. We were correct.”
The freeway closure lasted for over an hour, and traffic was backed up for nearly a mile.
Maupin further clarifies that the stand-off with the police that occurred at Seventh Street and Fillmore happened at the end of the march, and that the action of the three people who were arrested did not define the protest.
“It is no secret that many community members are in pain over, or are deeply angered, by the issue of police abuses and civil rights violations,” the reverend said. ” The stand-off was short-lived. People yelled, people got in close proximity with police, people were emotional. But the truth is there were no fights, no assaults, no police-on-protester violence or vice versa. After 30 minutes of negotiating with police and reasoning with protesters, a vast majority of the marchers turned and walked away in peace. Of the multitudes of people, three decided not to leave and caused six people some very minor injuries due to exposure to the very small amount of pepper spray.”
Multiple reports have indicated of another possible protest rally to take place Saturday evening at 4 p.m. near Southern and Central avenues.
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