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No Major Incidents Reported At Protests In Phoenix, Tempe Friday Night

activist in tempe
(Photo by Jimmy Jenkins - KJZZ)
An activist in Tempe speaks to the crowd July 15, 2016.

Protesters rallied at two different places in the Phoenix area Friday night to draw attention to recent incidents of police violence across the country.

No major incidents were reported at either event, held in Phoenix and Tempe, but activists did temporarily shut down part of a major intersection.

Over 100 protesters gathered on street corners around 24th Street and Camelback Road in the early evening. Some held signs or wore shirts reading Black Lives Matter. The mood was tense as law enforcement warned that any serious disruptions, including blocking traffic, would result in arrests.

College student Laneasa Spivey said her goal was simply to bring attention to police violence in a non-confrontational way. 

“We’re here to be peaceful. We’re here to spread a message not to give them another reason to treat us the way that we have been treated," said Spivey.

In the days before, Valley activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who led last week’s march in Phoenix and organized this one, had promised to shut down the intersection. He eventually did just that, leading protesters across 24th street and presenting the Phoenix police chief with a list of 12 reforms for the department.

"If the city doesn’t adopt these, if they don’t sit down at the table with us and come up with a consensus for this community. Then we will be right back out here like our mothers and fathers were before us to demand justice in this city," Maupin said.

After five minutes, protesters cleared the street and Maupin declared the event a succes.

“When the people come together in peace and when the people put together a document asking for reforms and change. Sometimes — just sometimes —  we win. And tonight, here in the city of Phoenix, we have won," said Maupin, amid cheers from the crowd.

Many people lingered around the intersection afterward, and some were not happy with the outcome, like Volina Armstrong and her friends.

“You can’t expect people to come down here for an hour and then tell people go home peacefully and think everything is going to be good. We got nothing resolved,” Armstrong said.

Meanwhile, a different group of protesters took to the streets of Tempe. About 100 supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement congregated at the corner of 9th and Wilson streets in Tempe on Friday night before marching through the city.

Natalie Orozco heard about the march on social media and felt compelled to join.

“I’d rather be out doing something than just sit at home and not support it at all cause silence is violence you it’s time to make a stand," she said.

Orozco said it’s important to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and march week after week, if that’s what it takes for their message of resisting violence to resonate.

“Society still isn’t listening you know it’s a movement it’s not just a moment," said Orozco.

Marshall Cummings said he too felt an overwhelming desire to come out to march after seeing police use tear gas on protesters in Phoenix a week ago.

“I don’t like to see what’s going on, and I want to see us live in a better more communal way," Cummings said.

The protesters were escorted by a very light police presence as they moved through residential neighborhoods and into downtown Tempe.

Jamie Kamal is a U.S. army veteran. He said he appreciates what the movement is trying to achieve, but said its supporters shouldn’t discount the dangers police face on a daily basis.

“It’s more dangerous than somebody going to war because in the war, you’re facing the enemy, you know how far he is, you know where he is, you’re taking precaution," said Kamal.

Kamal said he thinks the protesters are guilty of profiling by holding all police officers accountable for the actions of a few.

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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.