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Phoenix councilman attends protests, encourages positive interaction

(KTAR News Photo/Gabriel Gamiño)

PHOENIX – A Phoenix City Council member said attending the downtown protests this week was a message to the demonstrators that they were being heard by their leaders.

“I think it’s important for them to see us, as elected officials, out here understanding why they’re protesting,” Carlos Garcia told KTAR News 92.3 FM at Tuesday’s demonstration.

“… and they can see, hopefully, that policy can change, conditions can change, to make sure that situations like what happened to George Floyd doesn’t happen again.”

It was the sixth straight night of marches in Arizona’s capital. The crowd was estimated at about 1,000. For the second consecutive night, there were no arrests.

The May 25 death of Floyd in Minnesota while in police custody sparked protests across the country that in some places have turned violent.

Last weekend, more than 300 demonstrators were arrested in Phoenix. Protesters flung rocks and bottles at the Arizona State Capitol and at Phoenix Police Headquarters during the early days of the demonstrations.

Gov. Doug Ducey instituted a weeklong 8 p.m. curfew Sunday in response to the unrest, and most protesters have been heading home without incident since then.

“I’ve been attending the protests throughout the week just making sure everyone is safe and making sure that we could be helpful,” Garcia said.

“I’m looking at a crowd of young people that I’ve never seen before that are energized, that are fighting for justice. … I would invite the governor and anyone else to come speak to some of these young folks. They just want a change. They want a better world.”

He said officer accountability and transparency would address some of the protesters’ concerns.

“It’s a policy we passed earlier this year but it’s not yet funded,” Garcia said of his civilian oversight proposal that the council approved in late February.

The proposal would create “two new city bodies — a Community Review Board and the Office of Accountability and Transparency — that are independent from the police department, driven by community, transparent in their work to the public and investigative in their functions,” as described in the agenda for that policy session.

“We’re going into conversations this week and the rest of the month to finalize the budget for next year. I really hope we take what’s happening into consideration and make sure we fully fund that program.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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