Businesses around the Biltmore prepare for planned Friday sit-in

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 07:00:29-04

Many businesses in Phoenix are scrambling to figure out what to do after the news of another anti-police brutality event is set to happen Friday near their offices. 

The area is right near the Biltmore - near 24th Street and Camelback. 

Event organizer Reverend Jarrett Maupin tells ABC15 the event will start at 8:00 p.m. and should last at least until 11:00 p.m. The plan is to have a peaceful sit-in that will obstruct traffic at that busy intersection. 

Many businesses are taking action before the event on Friday, with some even telling their employees to stay home. 

"The goal is to disrupt business and inconvenience people," said Mark Maioni. "But, a lot of people here - we're just trying to make a living and make it home to our loved ones. That's all." 

Maioni is an office manager at a nearby law firm.

He said the disruption is causing him to question what to do tomorrow. Should he stay open, or close like many businesses around him?

"It only takes one individual person to ruin what could be a peaceful protest and something that could be meaningful - just to ruin it for everyone," Maioni said. "Like, we've seen it last week in downtown Phoenix." 

Maioni was referencing last Friday's protest--also organized by Rev. Maupin--that turned confrontational when protesters announced a change to the route in an attempt to block Interstate 10. Three people were arrested, and police used tear gas and pepper spray on the crowd.

But, across the street inside the Biltmore shops and restaurants, some were not as worried about another escalation. 

"I don't think it's going to be a big deal like people are talking about it - this and that," said Yuri Kakzanov. "I think it's going to be more protected. I think we're going to be good. We'll see what happens tomorrow." 

Kakzanov is the owner of the Groom Room Barbershop. He said he received a letter from Biltmore management alerting businesses to the event, but he was not concerned. 

"We're going to be working," Kakzanov said--insisting it would be business as usual. 

Others in the area are also in support, telling ABC15 that inconveniencing others is the most basic way to make a point. 

"I think that it's absolutely wonderful and it does need to happen because, you know what, no one is listening to this," said Steven Lopez. "Everyone is painting them as a problem - painting them as rioters... Or that they're too loud and they don't understand where their place is." 

Phoenix Police told ABC15 they are aware of the sit-in and will have a presence, but did not provide specifics.

Law enforcement officials did emphasize that attempting to obstruct a roadway is 'unlawful' behavior.