Phoenix Officials Promise ‘Thorough’ Review Of Police Response After Trump Rally

A line of five Phoenix Police Department vehicles outside of the Phoenix Convention Center on Monroe Street on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Monica Sampson/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Wednesday the city’s police department will conduct a “thorough and transparent” review of the police response after President Donald Trump’s downtown rally Tuesday night.

Trump’s remarks at the rally touched on a wide range of issues including racial tensions, media bias and immigration. He also hinted at a potential pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which continued to draw sharp criticism on Wednesday.

Law enforcement had used tear gas and other crowd-disbursement tactics after police said protesters threw tear gas, bottles and rocks at officers, according to a statement from Stanton. He said Chief Jeri Williams told him what spurred the clash.

“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,” according to Stanton’s statement. He also said he was “incredibly proud” of those who protested peacefully.

On social media Wednesday, some members of the public expressed concerns that these innocent bystanders had become victims of police brutality.

The American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday called for an investigation into reports of excessive police force. They took to Twitter to “urge witnesses to submit testimony” for the investigation.

“We have received many complaints that people, including children and people with mobility and respiratory issues, were taken by surprise when the police bombarded them with chemical irritants, with no warning,” an ACLU statement said. “The health risks associated with deploying so-called ‘non lethal’ weapons cannot be understated. Tear gas and pepper spray can have devastating health effects.”

Edward Maguire, a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, took four Ph.D students with him to the protests to observe the event.

“Much of the protest was handled well,” he said Wednesday. “I saw a lot of officers exercising restraint. For the majority of the event, they did fine. Where it fell apart was when they made the decision prematurely to deploy pepper balls and tear gas.”

Maguire said some of his students saw protesters throwing water bottles. However, he said the police should have done more to communicate with the crowd first and focused the more heightened response on people “engaged in violent and destructive activity while allowing those who are engaged in peaceful protest to continue exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Late Tuesday, Williams said at a news conference authorities arrested two people on suspicion of aggravated assault on a police officer and another person on suspicion of criminal damage.

Williams told reporters the response by police was appropriate “based on the information that we received and based on the fact of the charged and emotional nature of this.”

Officers applied different levels of force, including verbal commands to disperse to those within earshot before police deployed tear gas, Sgt. Jonathan Howard, a police spokesperson, said at the news conference.

However, some witnesses disputed whether the police gave the crowd enough warning. One Twitter user posted a video of the aftermath and commented: “Our attempt to remind the police that it’s a peaceful protest, but they still gas us, etc. and violate our rights.”

Phoenix City Council member Michael Nowakowski on Wednesday committed to an investigation to “determine the sequence of events,” according to a statement.

Meanwhile, local advocacy groups continued to express dismay at a potential presidential pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Trump alluded to a possible pardon at Tuesday night’s rally but CNN and other news outlets reported the White House had prepared paperwork for a pardon.

“Donald Trump continues to bring shame to the presidency by taunting Americans with threats he may soon pardon our disgraced former sheriff, Joe Arpaio, and shut down the government if he doesn’t get his way on funding for his foolish border wall,” Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona, an immigration and Latino advocacy group, said in a statement Wednesday.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials released a statement last week addressing the potential pardon.

“A pardon for Arpaio would be an endorsement of racism from the highest office in the land,” the statement said. “This kind of act would be an extraordinary intervention in our justice system that could threaten the public’s faith in law enforcement and the rule of law.”

9 Comments

  1. The above remarks cumulatively reflect my views on this issue. Phoenix has a superb police chief and an outstanding group of police officers who do their job and do it well, Chief Williams and her PD are to be highly commended, not dragged through the mud by an unwarranted witch hunt by disgruntled leftist city council members and mayor. The crybaby gasmasked thugs have to know that if the police are attacked by them, with bottles of urine, rocks and gas bombs there will be trouble and there was and these thugs were stopped as well they should have been, and kept from rioting and burning and breaking down businesses, yayyyhy! and I for one am very happy with the outcome.

  2. What’s to investigate? The Phoenix Police did exactly what was required after Antifa and other alt-Left rioters threw rocks and water bottles at them. Maquire stated that the Police “should have done more to communicate with the crowd first and focused the more heightened response on people engaged in violent and destructive activity…” So the Phoenix Policemen who were being assaulted by Antifa and other alt-Left rioters should have started singing, “Kumbaya” and offered hugs to the rioters? Get real! Tear gas and pepper spray does NOT have devastating health effects on protesters who are throwing rocks and water bottles filled with anybody’s good guess at policemen! Phosgene and Mustard gas or Sarin gas does, none of which the Phoenix Policemen used to disperse those who were assaulting them! Taking a hit to the head with a sizable rock or a water bottle filled with urine or feces can cause devastating health effects on the receiver, in this case, the Phoenix Policemen. Since when is an authorized Policeman, while being assaulted with rocks and bottles, required to “communicate” with the idiots assaulting him/her? You don’t assault officers of the law; if you do, they are lawfully authorized to use that force necessary to protect themselves and the public. It’s simple; if the Antifa (Anti-First Amendment) & alt-Left rioters hadn’t assaulted the Phoenix Police, they wouldn’t have deployed pepper balls and tear gas. My praise goes to the Phoenix Police who conducted themselves professionally at President Trump’s Rally. Excellent job, Phoenix Policemen!!

  3. Again a double standard. The left protested that there ‘could not be anyone at the charlotte riots on the right who were’ INNOCENT! Yet here all of a sudden the ‘peaceful’ left were basically attacked by the use of teargas/pepper spray! Once again double standards as they said if you were there on the right but not a member you were guilty by association, so what the hell is the difference here? Stand next to some clown throwing anything and then get hit with residual gas oh my I guess that there now CAN BE the innocent the president referred to but only if on the left!

  4. The reporter did not state what kind of fluids were in the water bottles thrown at the police. If that substance was urine, as Antifa used in Charlottsville, it could be considered assault with a deadly weapon.

  5. If someone impartial investigated, we might learn that the group who started throwing things were the actors hired on Craigs list to cause a disruption.

  6. On social media Wednesday, some members of the public expressed concerns that these innocent bystanders had become victims of police brutality.

    Gee, all you left loving bastards, it was your boys that started the BS. Throwing rocks and bottles at police, wearing hoods, etc. What the hell do you expect. The police to run for cover and let the dumnbasses loot and burn the town? Thought so. Don’t whine, because you got a little taste of the medicine you so richly deserve. You got to take the bitter with the sweet bitches… Put your self in that position and allow your masked army to assault the police, that is what you will get and rightfully so. Get a real life.

  7. I’m sure that a “thorough and transparent” review will be conducted but I fully expect the outcome to reflect the liberal biases of the Phoenix Mayor and Police Chief. I expect the review’s final report will be about as trustworthy as the one the Governor and DPS did on the Tim Jeffries DES ammunition and weapons investigation. It’s unfortunate that the present state of our society makes any expectation of a truly valid and unbiased investigation with a trustworthy outcome laughable.

  8. A 36 inch rosewood baton slapped upside the head for standing around peacefully protesting is excessive force, getting hit with drift tear gas intended for rock throwers is hardly excessive force.
    Investigating the police response in this case is a total waste of time and money, had hundreds been hurt or arrested or city blocks burned down then we might want to learn from it, but all in all the police handled it professionally, even at controlling a few radicals who got out off control.
    Once upon a time having your own personal gas mask might have seemed wacky and a testament to ones paranoia, but now days it’s becoming standard attire for attendees at protesting rallies.

    The Oracle

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