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Protesters Close Streets In Downtown Phoenix

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
Phoenix police form a line in the face of protesters on 7th Street at Fillmore Avenue in downtown Phoenix on July 8, 2016. Protesters later attempted to shut down the I-10.

Despite calls from city leaders for calm, hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Phoenix on Friday night in response to a recent spate of police shootings across the country.

In the aftermath of an attack in Dallas that left five police officers dead Thursday, Phoenix police and Mayor Greg Stanton asked that organizers postpone demonstrations here in the Valley.

“The Chief and myself and many others have suggested that this is not a good idea to have this protest tonight for both community safety as well as officer safety,” Stanton said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

But several hundred protesters showed up at Phoenix City Hall on Friday evening despite those suggestions.

Protester Dallas Diaz was not deterred by warnings of security concerns.

“Being silent - that’s a safety concern," Diaz said as she handed out candles to protesters with her brother. "It’s important to show we’re not afraid."

While "Black Lives Matter" was the common refrain, marcher Paula Smith said recent events have shown that violence is color blind.

“All lives matter. It’s not just about black, it’s not just about white, Chinese. All life, we’re part of the human race,” Smith said.

After a mostly peaceful march along Washington Street and 7th Street, the protesters were met with tear gas and pepper spray after deviating from an agreed-upon route and attempting to shut down Interstate 10. There were six minor injuries to protesters and Phoenix police arrested three people for throwing stones.

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Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.