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Phoenix says antifa responsible for some violence at Trump protest

Smoke billows after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. Protests were held against President Donald Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Police said members of the group antifa were responsible for some of the violence that broke out during a protest of President Donald Trump in downtown Phoenix last year.

In a report released Monday, the city said police officers were in regular contact with members of antifa — a larger body composed of several so-called anti-fascist groups around the country — during the hourslong August protest.

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“As antifa members were contacted throughout the night, they were given warnings to demonstrate peacefully,” the report read. “The group would not respond to police communications.”

The report claimed trouble began when 15 to 20 members of the group gathered behind signs placed along fencing on the north side of Monroe Street between Third and Fifth streets, across the street from Trump’s rally at the Phoenix Convention Center.

A police helicopter was called in to investigate after officers allegedly saw members removing unknown items from bags. Announcements were also made for people to leave the area.

The report said antifa members then attempted to use wooden supports attached to the signs to lift the fences. Officers were told to fire pepper balls at the group’s feet to disperse them.

The members then allegedly moved through the crowd and officers reported a sharp increase in the number of objects being thrown at them, including rocks and frozen and unfrozen water bottles.

At least one gas grenade was tossed from the crowd, which likely contained tear gas. The report did not state if a member of antifa threw the device.

Officers responded by firing smoke grenades at the area in front of the antifa group. The goal was to get them to leave the area.

“However, the individuals believed to be tied to the antifa group reached over and through the fence and began kicking and throwing police-deployed smoke munitions from Monroe Street.

“… Several antifa group members donned gas masks and/or other face coverings indicating a pre-planned effort to disrupt the event,” the report said.

After more objects were thrown at police, officers were told to deploy tear gas. After ANTIFA members began throwing the canisters back, officers used pepper balls, foam rounds and sting balls to disperse the crowd.

Officers then formed two lines and cleared the area.

The protest would wrap up shortly later as the final groups of protesters left after a brief standoff with police a few blocks away.

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