PHOENIX (AP) — A rally in downtown Phoenix to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis turned violent when protesters in Arizona’s largest city threw rocks and bottles at officers, broke windows at police headquarters, and damaged businesses and vehicles, officials said.
Phoenix police say hundreds of protesters marched Thursday evening from City Hall to the State Capitol, where demonstrators tried unsuccessfully to enter a building and instead broke windows.
They moved away from the Capitol and threw rocks and bottles at officers, leading police to issue a declaration of an unlawful assembly and warnings that protesters had to leave the area. Some protesters refused to leave. Officers fired pepper spray and rubber bullets.
“Unfortunately, the actions of a small group of individuals changed that peaceful protest to one that was criminal,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said.
On Friday morning, the broken windows at the Phoenix police headquarters were boarded up, and workers used sanders to scrape graffiti from sidewalks.
Eight people were arrested, most for unlawful assembly.
One protester who was exposed to pepper spray and two officers who suffered from heat exhaustion were brought to hospitals and have since been released.
The Phoenix, protest was organized by All Black Lives Matter Arizona and Jarrett Maupin.
The group is not affiliated with Black Lives Matter Phx Metro, which put out a statement on Facebook accusing Maupin and his group of leading protesters “into dangerous situations without regard for safety or legal consequences.”
Maupin told The Arizona Republic that the protest was successful.
“Things got a little rough there towards the end. The Capitol was our end game, and we made it there,” he told the newspaper. “Our event was nonviolent.”