A video posted on Wednesday shows Phoenix Police and protesters moments before smoke canisters were deployed to disperse the crowd. In the video, you can hear protesters imploring others to “stop throwing stuff.”
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Tempe City Councilman David Schapira claimed that he and his wife were “handing out water right when the first pepper ball was deployed. We witnessed no provocation, only peaceful protest. There was no warning. Tear gas was also widely deployed before we heard any warnings to disperse.”
The video, posted by Lone Protester, shows protesters throwing water bottles. It appears that many in the crowd were aware that the police were preparing to take a action in response to the projectiles throw at them.
On Wednesday, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton stated that it “was disappointing beyond words that a few people chose to disrupt an otherwise peaceful night by throwing objects at police officers. Chief Williams has indicated that police took decisive steps to disperse the crowd because those objects included tear gas, bottles and rocks. To avoid a potentially dangerous physical confrontation with these disruptors, police used pepper spray — which had the unfortunate consequence of affecting some of those nearby who were peaceful.”
“I have no reason to believe that the community and civil rights organizations that helped organize the rally outside – and even trained their members beforehand to remain civil and peaceful — played any role in confronting police or throwing objects that preceded the dispersal,” concluded Stanton.
Councilman Michael Nowakowski said in a press release, ”Last night, thousands of demonstrators descended upon the downtown area for the visit of President Trump. First, I’d like to thank all the first responders and public safety personnel for their commitment and dedication to public service by working well into the night to ensure the safety and protection of all demonstrators and supporters.” He continued, “Unfortunately, a very successful and peaceful expression of First Amendment rights throughout the day, was blemished by a small group of individuals who chose to express themselves in a more aggressive manner towards our law enforcement. As previously communicated in the days prior, law enforcement acted quickly and decisively to protect the community, property, and themselves.”