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Q&A with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on protests, curfew, coronavirus

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — It has been a busy past couple of months for Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego between the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and recent protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and Dion Johnson in Phoenix.

Gallego joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday to discuss those topics in addition to her relationship with Gov. Doug Ducey and the weeklong statewide curfew.

Gallego answered these questions in her interview with KTAR News:

How do you feel about Phoenix police and the protesters? You’ve got to love the fact that they’re working together now.

Gallego: We now have had multiple nights in a row without arrests. The vast majority of people who have been protesting in Phoenix have been peaceful. We’ve had moments of real dialogue between our officers and people who are out exercising their rights. Some cool moments. And so we hope we can continue where people can safely express what they are feeling and that we don’t see challenges with safety.

How do you feel about the about the curfew. Do you think it’s worked?

Gallego: So when Gov. Ducey announced the curfew, he tweeted that he had spoken with mayors. He did not speak with me. And it is my understanding he had not spoken with the mayors of Tucson or Scottsdale, those being the cities I think that have been most impacted by that. So I would ask that he really reach out to local mayors because I think we have important information. We all care about a safe community.

Have you reached out to the governor’s office? Have you not heard back? Or is it just that they’re not reaching out to you?

Gallego: So we began COVID-19 with daily phone calls with the governor’s office and his staff. The governor was not on those phone calls. Then they scaled them back to twice a week and then they canceled them. At the beginning of COVID when I would call the governor, his staff would call me back. Now we just do not have good communication.

Now that the violence has ended, why are we not seeing more emphasis on the protesters being asked to be distanced and masks being worn? Why is that not happening?

Gallego: [Phoenix] Police Chief Jeri Williams and I joined our public safety chairman, Michael Nowakowski, on Saturday to have a press conference and I really tried to talk about the fact that we are still in the middle of COVID-19 and we have to take this seriously. We are not through this.

I’ve tried to call on athletes and others who I think may be more meaningful than a mayor to some of our youngest residents about delivering messages about safety.

But do you believe the protesters should be providing a better example of distancing?

Gallego: It really is up to us. As individuals, we each make our own safety decisions. If I wear a mask, it is to protect the people around me. And so I would hope everyone would take those precautions. I understand it is hot out there. It is tough conditions. But I try to use my voice to say we are not through COVID-19 and simple precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands are really important.

Have you marched with any of the protesters? Do you think that’s something you should do as mayor or are you intentionally not doing it? 

Gallego: I am trying to be solution-oriented and play my role in creating a safer community. So I’m talking with faith leaders, with people in the activism community and with business leaders about what we can do for solutions. I’m also talking with our police department about what role I can take to have a safer community. So I have not been out protesting, but if there’s a role I can play in getting us to solutions, that’s my job.

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