Time: 3:36 p.m. CEST
PHOENIX: Usually abandoned and ghostly streets of downtown Phoenix turned loud on Friday, even though it was not the time of the month for artistic First Friday gatherings in small art places in the historic district of the 1,5 million city. People gathered on the streets of Phoenix to protests shootings of two African-American men earlier this week.
Peaceful protests began peaceful. Later, during the warm summer night in Phoenix where the usual temperature reaches over 100F (37 C) even in the night, the protest turned confrontational after marchers decided to block a freeway. The protested in a usually calm part of the downtown Phoenix come a day after the killings of the police officers in Dallas, Texas. The organizers keep firmly to present their voices, despite the appeal of the other activists and city leaders to postpone the march.
The azcentral.com reported that, “one of the organizers, the Rev. Jarret Maupin, said “there had never been violence during civil rights rallies in Phoenix and he vowed to keep this one peaceful.” “We cannot let domestic acts of terrorism — which is what occurred in Dallas — prevent us from being civil rights activists.”
But about two hours in, protesters changed the night’s plans and Maupin announced they were heading “to the interstate.” As they continued toward the Interstate 10, protesters clashed with police, dressed in riot gear with shields to physically barricade 7th Street and Fillmore Street and tried to keep the marchers from the freeway.
Then, police used pepper spray, while the crowd gathered and people yelled, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” As police used more pepper spray and fired beanbags into the crowd, organizers pleaded for calm. Marchers started the protests at the City Hall before 8 p.m., with plans to march several blocks to Phoenix Police headquarters on West Washington Street and then east to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Jefferson Street.
The crowd erupted briefly after a handful of counter protesters began shouting anti-Black Lives Matter messages from across the street. Phoenix Chief Joe Yahner argued with Maupin, trying to convince him not to try to shut down the freeway. Yahner told The Republic, “He is not going to shut down the freeway. That is not going to happen.”
As police formed a line near Fillmore and Seventh streets, tensions rise as the marchers pushed. “Then police deployed the pepper spray and people scattered. Among those hit was Republic photojournalist Thomas Hawthorne, who was providing live video feeds for azcentral.com,” the azcentral.com reports.
The protests on Friday was not in the organization of the official Arizona Black Lives Matter movement, but they where planned earlier as a response to the police-officer-involved shootings in Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was killed, and a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, where Philando Castile was shot to death.
A situation with the flag on the ground
Andy Hernandez threw his American flag, hung upside-down on its pole, to the ground. He spread the corners and smoothed the crinkles. Holding a fist high, he stepped onto the flag, right where stars meet stripes. Hernandez, 60, is a former member of the Brown Berets, a Chicano Nationalist group. He said he saw similarities between his movement and the protesters’.
“I believe there is a lot of police brutality and injustice,” he said. “People of color, or leftist Americans, they have a right to rebel.” He didn’t plan on burning the flag. Not here, he said. He didn’t want to be arrested.