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Large police shootings protests cost Phoenix taxpayers nearly $250,000

Police in riot gear move in to break up a group of marchers as hundreds take to the streets to protest against the recent fatal shootings of black men by police Friday, July 8, 2016, in Phoenix. Freeway ramps were closed and pepper spray and tear gas were used Friday night during a protest in downtown Phoenix following the killings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, at the hands of police and the deadly sniper attack on police officers in Dallas. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Two Phoenix protests over the shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota cost city taxpayers nearly $250,000, it was announced Tuesday.

According to numbers released by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and confirmed by the Phoenix Police Department, the July 8 and July 15 protests cost $247,996 in regular officer pay and overtime.

DiCiccio’s office said that sum was just the cost to the police department. It did not include lost spending at businesses affected by the protests.

DiCiccio said, though he is an advocate for First Amendment rights, the protests squandered police resources that could have been spent elsewhere.

“This shows a complete disrespect for the taxpayer and our great police department,” he said in the release. “This disrespect can easily be added up — add up the loss of taxpayer monies, the cost to local small business owners, the waste of limited police resources, and the fact that the protesters refused to change the date of their protest as it occurred the day after we lost those brave police heroes in Dallas.”

The first protest, on July 8, was held just one day after five police officers were killed by a sniper in Dallas. A dozen others were wounded in the shooting.

In Phoenix, at least three people were arrested after hundreds protesters attempted to block Interstate 10 but were met at each attempt by a line of police.

Some small skirmishes occurred and police used both pepper spray and tear gas to control the crowd. Police Chief Joe Yanher praised his officers’ actions during the protest.

The second protest, held a week later, was much calmer. Protesters blocked the intersection of 24th Street and Camelback Road for several minutes until Yahner accepted a plan from activists to improve police-community relations.

The July 8 protest cost taxpayers $123,341, while the department spent $124,655 during the more peaceful July 15 protest.

The difference was the number of on-duty officers compared to overtime. The department accounted for 562 on-duty hours during the July 8 protest and added 1,041.75 overtime hours.

For comparison, the city paid 933.50 on-duty and 627.75 overtime hours for the July 15 protest.

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