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Hundreds Gather In Phoenix To Demonstrate Against Death Of George Floyd

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Phoenix last night to demonstrate against the death of unarmed 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The march began Thursday night at Phoenix City Hall around 7 p.m., and ended at the State Capitol building early Friday morning.

The demonstration was organized by All Black Lives Matter Arizona and civil rights leader the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who says the event was successful and "nonviolent," despite reports of clashes with police and damage to property and vehicles.

Around 11 p.m., police declared an "unlawful assembly" near Wesley Bolin Plaza and announced on a loudspeaker and social media that demonstrators must vacate the area.

Later video footage shows demonstrators hitting the windows of police cars with hammers, and officers reportedly responded with pepper spray and rubber bullets.

Arizona Voices: Race, Diversity And The Black Lives Matter Movement

Eight arrests were made by the end of the night and one driver was cited for civil traffic violations, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

Speaking at a press conference Friday morning, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said the department expects another demonstration Friday night.

Williams says officers will be deployed to monitor the situation, and anyone in the area must vacate if an unlawful assembly is declared.

“We do respect all those who want to exercise our First Amendment rights peacefully and we support that." Williams said. "But we cannot and will not tolerate criminal activity which endangers our community, our officers and other demonstrators.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued a statement Friday. 

It’s hard to know what to say at a moment like this. People are hurt, upset, and angry, and they have a right to be. This pain and frustration comes from a lived experience that isn't mine but that does not diminish the role I must play in helping to change the future. Part of my job in a moment like this is to listen above all else.

The killing of George Floyd takes place against a backdrop of systemic inequities, particularly for African-Americans, that are larger than any one incident. We all have a responsibility to address this inequity. People are right to stand up and demand change.

We must have high standards for all public servants, including law enforcement. There are many officers looking at, and reflecting upon, this incident who are motivated to work even harder to build greater trust with communities where that relationship has eroded. Most residents understand the difficult tightrope officers must walk every day. 

As we work to implement change and push toward racial equity, I ask residents to continue to look out for one another and recognize that hurt begets hurt.

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.