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Protests spread to Chandler, police and mayor focus on community relationships

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Posted at 7:38 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 22:50:51-04

CHANDLER, AZ — Protests are starting to spread to places outside Phoenix, including Chandler.

Tuesday and Wednesday night brought protests to downtown Chandler. The mayor is meeting with pastors and community leaders to address the frustrations and fears behind these protests and work with a plan to move forward.

"Listening to the voices, making sure we can properly give credence to issues and pain that may not be part of my experience or someone else's experience," said Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke.

"Working on how do we find a way through relationships that matter to bring real transformation and change to something as complicated as we're looking at," said David Wright, the lead pastor at Life Link Church.

"We have to address the symptoms that caused the reaction in the first place," said Jason Turner, the lead pastor at Christian Faith Fellowship Church in Chandler.

Turner said that involves having honest conversations across races and generations.

"We have to be willing to open up our experiences to each other and be willing to be uncomfortable sitting in those experiences. It's one thing to come to a table and talk about 'These are the solutions, these are the things we think we need to do,' and then you leave the table and you never interact with those communities," said Turner.

"We recognize the responsibilities we have to each other. If we see something going wrong, we need to do something and say something," said Victor E. Hardy, the founder of Chandler Men of Action.

The pastors said they're proud of the young people speaking out, but they want to make sure they keep going after the protests are over.

"When that's done, now let's get to the table. Let's get you elected, let's make sure that you're voting, let's get you going to PTA meetings. Let's get you involved and get you in the room," said Turner.

Tuesday, about 200 people gathered in downtown Chandler to protest. Police say it was a peaceful protest. Everyone left by the 8 p.m. curfew, and no one was arrested.

Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan called the protest "beautiful," saying he was proud.

"They made an impact. A lot of people saw them yesterday. They certainly got their message across," said Chief Duggan.

Chief Duggan has also been meeting with the mayor and other leaders. He said the first step in moving forward is understanding that this is an issue that impacts everyone and that everyone has a different perspective.

"To be open and aware that people may have an absolutely different viewpoint is certainly very important," he said. "We are embedded in our community and we're developing those relationships so where there is a controversy that happens outside our community we know we can convene and talk. We have a track record of treating people and the community in this city are proud of their police and we give them reasons to be proud. That's perishable so we have to earn that every day."

Chief Duggan said his officers will protect the people's right to protest. The department has mobilized more officers to make sure looting and riots like the ones that broke out in Scottsdale Saturday night, won't happen in their communities.

"Certainly in modern policing we understand that we will only be successful if we have the trust, support and respect of the people who live and work here," he said.