Public Asked To Ensure Free Speech During President Trump Arizona Visit

Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum [Photo from Lockley/Wikimedia Commons]

PHOENIX – As Arizona prepares to host President Donald Trump on Wednesday, February 19, the public is advised to prepare for congested roads. President Trump is holding a campaign event at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the State Fair Grounds near 19th Ave. & McDowell at 7 p.m.

Law Enforcement agencies including the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) and the City of Phoenix Police Department are asking the public to “be part of safety plans” in order to ensure free speech is protected.

AZDPS Director Colonel Frank Milstead said, “We stand with the public, governmental and law enforcement partners to help ensure the safety of everyone involved with the presidential visit.”

According to AZDPS, event parking will open to the public at 6:00 AM and the venue will open at 3:00 PM. Only those with tickets for the event will be admitted. Strict security measures and screening will be in place at the Coliseum and attendees should leave prohibited items at home or risk being denied entry.

No weapons, signs or alcohol are allowed in the venue.

The Phoenix Police Department issued some tips and anticipated the public’s questions to make the event safe for all:

  • Report any criminal or suspicious behavior.
  • There will be officers in the immediate area and you will also see detectives walking around. If you see something, say something.

Will roads be closed to traffic?

Roads will be closed as the President moves to and from the Airport and the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This will be happening during rush hour and may cause delays. At the event itself, Encanto will be closed between 17th & 19th Avenues and traffic is expected to be heavy on the main thoroughfares of 19th Ave., McDowell and Grand Ave. Choose alternate routes when possible. We will provide regular updates on traffic conditions on Twitter @PhoenixPolice, @StreetsPHX and @CityofPhoenixAZ.

Can I park near the Fairgrounds?

There is some parking on site at the fairgrounds, but it is possible there could be more vehicles than the parking lot can accommodate. Please do not park on residential streets in the surrounding neighborhoods. Many of those areas are permit only parking and your vehicle could be towed. If you plan on being in the area of the event on Wednesday afternoon/evening, consider carpooling, using public transportation, or a ride sharing option.

Will there be a specific place for me to exercise my freedom of speech?

On planned events such as this, law enforcement makes every attempt to facilitate an area for spectators and attendees who wish to voice their beliefs or opinions. This area will be designated in advance and clearly marked.  The north side of Encanto road in an area between 17th Ave. & 19th Ave. has been designated for this purpose.

Can I or a group of people block the roadway?

Roadways used by motorists are not allowed to be blocked. This is dangerous for both pedestrians and motorists. If you block the roadway you may be arrested for obstructing a public thoroughfare. This is a misdemeanor crime.

What is an Unlawful Assembly?

An Unlawful Assembly is when a group of people are involved in criminal activity and are posing a danger to themselves or others. The incident commander makes this determination to protect the security and safety of everyone in the area. When possible, those in the vicinity will hear a message over a loud speaker and given time to disperse. There may be situations where immediate police intervention is needed. People who fail to follow the instructions may be subject to arrest. We want everyone to understand the message coming via the speaker. It will be delivered in both English and Spanish and will be replayed repeatedly.

In an effort to make the entire crowd aware of the need to disperse, the officer will say something similar to this:

“I am ___ (name) ___, a police officer for the City of Phoenix. I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly in the name of the People of the State of Arizona and command all persons so assembled at ___ (location) ___ to immediately and peacefully disperse. Arizona Revised Statute 13-2902 prohibits remaining present at an unlawful assembly and if you do not disperse, you will be subject to arrest.

If I am on the sidewalk once the Unlawful Assembly is declared will I be arrested?

Yes, once this is declared unlawful, everyone must leave the area. You can no longer be in the immediate area. This includes private property, roadways and sidewalks. This order also includes the media who remain in the area.

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