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Metro Phoenix leaders condemn violent protest over George Floyd death

(KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX — Metro Phoenix leaders condemned protests that turned violent at the Arizona State Capitol and police headquarters on Thursday night that centered around the death of George Floyd.

“They had a justifiable reason to express their disdain but not a justifiable reason to act in a criminal manner or do damage,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Friday.

Protesters smashed windows with rocks and bottles before being met by Department of Public Safety troopers in riot gear, who deployed tear gas and rubber bullets.

Phoenix police said Friday that eight arrests were made over the course of the night. Most were for unlawful assembly, and a driver was cited for civil traffic violations.

The Phoenix protest and others across the country stemmed from the May 25 death of Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“As I mentioned before, we do respect all those who want to exercise those First Amendment rights peacefully and we support that,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Friday during a press conference. “But we can not and will not tolerate criminal activity which endangers our community, our officers and other demonstrators.”

Images appeared to show a white police officer restrain the handcuffed black man by putting a knee to Floyd’s neck before he ultimately died in custody.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said the criminal activity wasn’t the proper course of action.

“Attacking police and destroying property in Phoenix for something that happened in Minnesota is ludicrous,” DiCiccio said in a statement. “I don’t know of anyone here — myself included — who hasn’t condemned what happened to George Floyd.”

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