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Phoenix buildings, police vehicles damaged during George Floyd protests

(KTAR News/Tyler Bassett)

PHOENIX — Protesters took to the streets of Phoenix late Friday night in response to the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this week.

The protests started around 9 p.m., shortly after a vigil for Dion Johnson, a man Black Lives Matter of Metro Phoenix say was killed by a Department of Public Safety Officer on May 25, concluded.

While the group urged those in attendance to go home after the vigil, many began walking through downtown before reaching the Phoenix police headquarters. Police officers ordered the protesters to disperse soon after arriving to the headquarters.

Protesters held their ground, however, with some escalating the situation by throwing water bottles at the officers behind the barricades in riot gear. Other protesters kneeled on the ground and linked arms.

Just before 11 p.m., Phoenix Police declared an unlawful assembly due to criminal activity and a current danger to the community.

As protesters remained on the Phoenix streets beyond the unlawful assembly declaration, police began firing nonlethal rounds into the air, while dispersing smoke bombs into the crowd. Shortly after, a police line started, ushering protesters away from the police headquarters.

Across the street from the headquarters, protesters continued to escalate the situation around midnight, vandalizing the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse with anti-police graffiti and smashing the front windows.

The Arizona Federal Theatre, FOX10 and other surrounding buildings were also vandalized with graffiti, paint and broken windows. Some of the graffiti read “burn down the city tomorrow will be flames.”

According to Phoenix police, there were no injuries reported but at least eight police officers were assaulted by objects that were thrown at them.

Two men were arrested during the protests.

Michael Lane, 44, was arrested for rioting, criminal damage and unlawful assembly and refusal to disperse. He admitted to breaking the window of a police vehicle during Thursday’s protests and throwing a bottle Friday.

Andrew Givens, 36, was arrested for for aggravated assault on a police officer, unlawful assembly and refusal to disperse, resisting arrest and possession of narcotic drugs.

Both men were booked into Maricopa County jail.

“In Arizona, we will always respect the 1st Amendment rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a tweet Saturday morning. “We will not, however, tolerate rioting, looting, violence, destruction of property or any behavior that endangers the safety or rights of others.”

It marked the second night of protests in Phoenix after a white officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck while taking him into custody in Minnesota on May 25. The officer, Derek Chauvin, involved in the incident was arrested late Friday morning and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All four officers on scene were fired.

In addition to the protests in Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other cities across the country saw thousands of protesters who carried signs that said: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.” They chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.”

Protesters gathered outside the White House, with President Donald Trump inside, with some trying to push through the barriers set up by the U.S. Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Elsewhere, Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency in one county to activate up to 500 members of the state National Guard “to protect people & property in Atlanta.”

Gov. Brian Kemp said in a pair of tweets early Saturday that the move came at the request of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and in consultation with emergency officials.

KTAR News’ Taylor Kinnerup and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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