PHOENIX — Rallies quickly escalated Friday night in Phoenix after a vigil for Dion Johnson, a man shot and killed by DPS earlier this week. It was the second night of demonstrations downtown, following protests for George Floyd, a man that also died in police custody this week in Minneapolis.
Video from the scene shows some protesters breaking windows and lighting off fireworks at the Arizona Federal Theatre, as well as at other downtown buildings. Other protesters can also be seen shattering windows and vandalizing Phoenix police vehicles.
According to Phoenix police, around 9:45 p.m., members of the crowd started throwing bottles at officers and starting small fires. At that point, officers made multiple announcements for the crowd to disperse.
The activity escalated to fireworks, graffiti and other damage caused to multiple city buildings and businesses between the areas of 7th Avenue and 7th Street.
Eight fully marked police vehicles had windows shattered and tires slashed, and one was almost lit on fire. Eight officers were assaulted by objects thrown at them.
Police arrested two people, 44-year-old Michael Lane and 36-year-old Andrew Givens.
Lane was arrested for rioting, criminal damage and unlawful assembly. He admitted to breaking a police vehicle window Thursday night and throwing a bottle Friday night. Givens was arrested for aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest, unlawful assembly, and possession of narcotics.
US Marshal David Gonzales posted on social media Saturday morning that damage to the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse was estimated to be about $300,000. He posted a photo of graffiti to one side of the building, and noted broken doors, planters, glass and other vandalism.
"I understand protesting and demonstrating, but this is disgusting and unacceptable," Gonzales said in his online post.
CHAOS:— Zach Crenshaw (@ZachCrenshaw) May 30, 2020
At least 7 Phoenix PD cruisers had their front and rear windshields smashed and their tires slashed.
Multiple buildings had their windows destroyed as well.
Phoenix PD were holding the line & did not appear to catch any in the act @ABC15 pic.twitter.com/ga1UTs6MDx
Watch video from the scene in the player below. Viewer discretion is advised. Strong language can be heard as this was a live event.
Dion Johnson, 28, was shot and killed by a DPS trooper Monday morning near the Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard.
Police say a DPS trooper was patrolling the area when he saw a vehicle parked on the eastbound gore point, partially blocking traffic.
The trooper observed a man, later identified as Johnson, allegedly passed out in the driver's seat and when the trooper made contact with him, there was a struggle and the trooper fired his service weapon striking and killing Johnson.
A vigil was held Friday night for Johnson in Phoenix, and that group later decided to march toward the capitol downtown.
Protesters rallied Thursday night in downtown Phoenix as well, over the in-custody death of Floyd in Minneapolis. The officer seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes before he went unconscious was arrested on a third-degree murder charge but many say the penalty was not strong enough.
Governor Doug Ducey released the following statement Saturday about the protests around the state:
"I want to compliment our law enforcement officers on their professional and valiant work the last two nights in protecting public safety and defusing the situations in downtown Phoenix and Tucson.
"In the state of Arizona, we will always respect the First Amendment rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard. We will not, however, tolerate rioting, looting, violence, destruction of property or any behavior that endangers the safety or rights of other individuals.
"It's important that elected leaders at all levels make this very clear. Here, we will enforce the rule of law. Department of Public Safety Colonel Heston Silbert is coordinating closely with law enforcement leaders across the state to ensure this remains a priority tonight and beyond.
"I've personally reached out this morning to Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to offer the full support of the state and assure them that we've got their backs."