Phoenix Marchers Rile First Friday,
Decry Police Violence
Phoenix-Metro Residents Including Some Who Marched Thursday, Anarchists And Downtown Residents, Marched Up And Down Roosevelt Street Before Being Stopped By Police In Riot Gear On Their Way To Police Headquarters
By Jeff Moses and John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 6, 2014 — Friday night in downtown Phoenix, nearly 200 residents of the metro-area peacefully marched through downtown Phoenix to decry police violence as several hundred officers intimidated them with riot gear while at the same time accommodating them by shutting down traffic.
The march, which included those who marched downtown Thursday night as well as self-described anarchists and some who learned about it on Facebook or while at First Friday activities along Roosevelt Street, began at about 8 p.m. and ended at about 11:30 p.m. For the first hour, marchers headed east and west along Roosevelt Street, occasionally lying down but more often sitting at intersections including Third and Second streets. At least a dozen First Friday attendees joined during this period.
At about 9:30 p.m., Phoenix police formed a line just east of Fifth Street that stretched from the buildings on the north and south sides of Roosevelt Street, thereby blocking the marchers’ westerly path. Marchers paused, then headed south on Sixth Street to Garfield Street and eventually made their way to First Avenue while being followed by several police vehicles. Marchers were also assisted by motorcycle officers who prevented oncoming traffic from nearing the marchers who walked in the roadway. A police pickup truck equipped with a rig that included cameras and other items led the protesters and recorded the march.
The more than 100 residents walked nearly 2 miles to Phoenix Police headquarters, 620 W. Washington St., before sitting in the road in front of the building. Officers ringed the building in riot gear and other officers viewed the crowd from the roof. Other officers communicated with radios and were dressed in plain clothes with reflective vests but were typically videotaping the crowd.
Four people addressed the crowd in front of police headquarters. Modern Times Magazine does not publish the names of protesters unless they are arrested by police or make a specific request to be identified.
“It could be your mother, it could be your daddy, it could be you,” said one of the leaders of the march.
“We are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said another. “They (police) don’t like this. They are thinking, these are our own people and they have turned against us. We got you. This is a younger generation now, we ain’t gonna take that shit no more. We are humans, just like you. We know you want to go home to your kids, just like I want to see mine the next day. But where is your humanity, where is your humility?”
The same individual talked about how things could change.
“But I’m going to tell you all how to change it. First, we haven’t heard from the Mayor (Greg Stanton) yet. I don’t know if we need to start a recall petition or what we need to do, but we have to change our city. This is our city. What do we need to do to get justice?” he said.
When it was also mentioned that voting can change things, sevel of the handful of local anarchists — which do not ascribe to the notion of government or police — began to get vocal. Marchers then marched the nearly two mile hike back to Roosevelt Street where it ended when they were once again stopped just west of Seventh Street by police in riot gear.
The march was predicted by local police and others as a potentially violent situation apparently based upon the participation of the local anarchists. Phoenix police officer Jeff Howell sent an email to many of the business owners whose shops inhabit Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix, warning of violence.
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who led the march for Brisbon Thursday night, publicly decried Friday’s march because anarchist participation to several media outlets
The letter was made public by local business owner Wayne Rainey of Monorchid, 214 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix via Facebook.
“I've got about 30 tenants here at the building and there are a lot of other business owners on Roosevelt and they follow what's going on the facebook page and I was just passing a long the heads up,” said Rainey. “We’ve had a lot of protests on Roosevelt before, but we’ve never had issues of people breaking windows, it sounds like that’s what the plan is.”
Rainey has owned Monorchid on Roosevelt Row for 15-years and in that time he vaguely recalled one prior instance where the police may have reached out to him to inform him of a suspected vandalism. But he also said that Phoenix police has never reached out with a direct warning of this type before.
The letter made it appear as though protests organized by anarchists are more likely to become unruly than other protests that occur. In his email Howell used last week’s FTP (Fuck the Police) march in Scottsdale as examples of how much damage the anarchists can do. He cited spray painted statues, anarchist instigated fights, and a hurled rock that caused “$9,000” worth of damage as his proof of the anarchists devilish intentions.
However, according to Alex Kennedy, one of the anarchists organizers of last weeks event, no protester deployed spray paint at anytime. The artistic implement in question was actually sidewalk chalk, a popular outdoor toy for children, and completely washable, he said.
The letter also referenced a fistfight at last week’s event. According to Kennedy, the fight was instigated by two Oldtown Scottsdale bar patrons by the names of Matthew Belardine and Samuel Lee Busic. As first reported by the Phoenix metro based Down and Drought, Belardine was a volunteer football coach at Steubenville High School, the location of the infamous rape that cast the small Ohio town into the national spotlight two years ago. Busic and Belardine also managed to assault a 17-year-old girl while they were instigating the protestors. Kennedy's statements can be back up by video taken from the event by Phoenix based videographer Dennis Gilman.
News sources including KPHO, AZCentral, and Fox 10, reported that the estimated cost was $6,000 dollars worth of damage.
KTAR reported, “nearly 200 members of anarchist groups, such as the Dark Carnival Anarchoclowns, posted on Facebook that they would meet at 8 p.m. Friday near Fifth and Garfield streets.”
According to local anarchists, however, the Dark Carnival Anarchoclowns is a fictitious, humor-based Facebook group.
Officer Howell did not responded to voice messages left for him by Modern Times Magazine at both his office and cell phone. Rainey said he was unaware that any of the information in the letter was contestable.
Full Email from Phoenix police officer Jeff Howell as supplied by Wayne Rainey:
“This email is to inform everyone that there will be a protest tomorrow at 8pm during our First Friday event. The name of this protest is the "March in Solidarity with Mike Brown, Ferguson, and Eric Garner". This protest is being put on by our local "Anarchist Group". Their goal is to get their message across by disrupting First Friday. This is the same group that marched in Old Town Scottsdale last week. They spray painted some statues, blocked traffic, started fights, and threw a rock through an art gallery window causing $9000 in damage to the window and an art piece that was inside. As with any protest that deal with these types of groups, there is potential for problems to occur. Please pass this information on to your fellow residents and businesses that fall within the First Friday footprint.
Please call 911 if there is any type of criminal activity on your property. We will deal with these problems accordingly.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
OFFICER JEFF HOWELL #5823
COMMUNITY ACTION OFFICER,
DOWNTOWN OPERATIONS UNIT
PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT
WORK HOURS/ DAYS 0600-1600 M-THUR
"POLICING WITH A PURPOSE"
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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