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City of Phoenix officials warn action will be taken against violent protests

(KTAR News/Tyler Bassett)

PHOENIX – City of Phoenix officials are asking those planning to protest Saturday night to do so peacefully or police would take action.

Mayor Kate Gallego, Police Chief Jerri Williams and other City of Phoenix officials held a press conference Saturday afternoon to address the demonstrations that have taken place in downtown Phoenix the last two nights. The protests have been in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

“We will not allow violent actions of these individuals to overshadow the peaceful protests being practiced by other residents,” Gallego said.

“We cannot let a small group’s propensity for violence and chaos direct our attention away from the very real conversation that needs to be had about race and policing in America. We will not stand for this violence and destruction.”

Williams warned police would not tolerate those violently protesting.

“Be clear,” Williams said. “As we defend the rights of demonstrators to share their message, we will not tolerate criminal activity.”

Williams noted they want to allow people to peacefully demonstrate without destroying the city.

“As a woman of color, I understand, I empathize, I sympathize with the pain that the community is involved in and the important call as the mayor mentioned for changed, but let’s not allow that message to be overshadowed by criminal activity.”

Other city leaders like Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Chair of the Public Safety and Justice subcommittee, Dr. Warren H. Stewart Sr. and former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox echoed Williams and Gallego’s words.

“Violence damages,” Stewart said. “It damages lives. It damages property. It damages people. Violence damages the cause for which you are marching.”

Gallego noted Williams has been in contacted with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona National Guard will support the city’s efforts Saturday night. Additionally, the city will not institute a citywide curfew in response to protests.

Multiple buildings, including police headquarters, the Sandra. Day O’Connor U.S. courthouse, the Arizona Federal Theatre and others had their windows shattered and were tagged with graffiti during Friday night’s protests.

According to police, eight fully marked Police vehicles had the windows smashed and or tires slashed. No officers were injured in the protests, but eight officers were assaulted by objects that were thrown at them.

Williams estimated protestors cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

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