A carefully planned protest coordinated with Phoenix police, has taken an unexpected turn as Black Lives matter decided to suddenly change the protest route and block Interstate 10 in America's 5th largest city! The event began at 8:00 PM local time, and is now turning into something very unplanned.
Police pressed farther down 7th Street, shooting bean bags at the rapidly shrinking crowd and telling people to leave.
Police appear to have detained a man on 7th Street and McKinley Street. Phoenix police spokesman Vince Lewis confirmed at least one protester has been arrested.
A police helicopter announced overheard for those blocking the street to get out of the roadway and go home.
Most of the crowd has disappeared by now, but the police are holding its barricade on Roosevelt Street and 7th Street.
A little pepper spray lingered in the air on Garfield Road and 7th Street. A crowd of about 70 people huddled in smaller groups of 10-20 each,seeming to not be sure what to do next.
Police continued to tell people to get out of the road and go home.
Someone threw a water bottle at police.
Via loudspeaker, they responded, "Please do not throw objects at us."
The crowd has thinned considerably, leaving about 50 people still in the streets, mostly on Roosevelt Street near 7th Street. Most were responding to police requests that they leave.
Police continued to ask people to go home. They continued to shoot bean bag guns.
Police just declared the rally an "unlawful assembly."
Police began going more on the offensive, pressing southbound and shooting bean bag guns.
The crowd gathered around a man who was shot point-blank with pepper spray. They were pouring milk into his eyes, trying to help.
Brittany Volz, 22, attended the Phoenix rally alone.
She said she “didn’t know what was happening” when law enforcement deployed pepper spray into the crowd, but soon found herself pushed to the ground, losing her cell phone and scraping both knees and wrists.
Volz borrowed a stranger’s phone to wake up her sleeping mother for a ride home. Despite her mother’s concern, Volz said she would attend a rally again because she was a “lucky one.”
The crowd began to head up 5th Street in hopes of finding another way to the freeway. It turned right on Garfield and was again headed up 7th Street, passing Roosevelt. Flashing red and blue lights can be seen near the freeway.
Pepper spray was deployed again. Some in the crowd were coughing. Others were throwing rocks at police card. Throngs of people ran southbound as the pepper spray was deployed.
Well behind the crowd, Sean Shepherd stood in a puddle of water, doubled over. His eyes were squeezed shut, but tears poured out.
Shepherd was near the front of the crowd, where protesters met police in riot gear. The march had been peaceful, he thought.
"I figured it pretty much would be so long as nobody touches them," he said. "I didn't see anyone make contact."
Shepherd saw the crowd pushing close against the officers' shields. He tried to push them back. The police sprayed.
"They didn't feel safe with somebody trying to be in the crowd, no matter what they were doing," he said. "As long as you're a part of the crowd, I guess you're a part of the crowd."
He saw two quick bursts of pepper spray. He saw the protesters turn and run. Then he saw nothing.
A few minutes later, he stood in a group of strangers. They handed him a gallon jug of water as he flushed his eyes.
"It just burns," he said.
Tina Brown was standing less than 20 feet from a wall of riot gear-clad police holding shields and pepper spray.
Several people have already been sprayed, and the many protesters have taken a stand further from the police line. For Brown, being close isn't an issue of defiance as much of an issue of morality.
"It's my people and my heritage," she said. "If I wasn't here, something would be wrong with me. Something would be wrong with my morals."
Deddrick Harris, 21, turned and ran in the crowd of people when he heard reports of pepper spray being deployed by law enforcement.
He said he's not entirely surprised, calling it "realistic." But he has no regrets, and would attend other rallies and protests.
"The reward is greater than the risk," he said.
Maupin seemed to have no plan for next steps. But because of his earlier statements to shut down the freeway, protesters want to press on toward Interstate 10.
Maupin said he is continuing to negotiate with police, but hadn't spoken to officers in several minutes.
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A police sergeant attempted to warn the crowd about arrests, but was drowned out by the crowd yelling. Several protesters called for the group to move to antoher street.
— Laura GomezRodriguez (@Laura_GomezRod) July 9, 2016
Maupin attempts to calm some of the more emotional individuals in the crowd. Some are crying; others are screaming and wanting to press on.
One woman, holding Maupin's hand, screamed, "They don't care about us!"
An officer tells the crowd over a loud speaker to "have a good night."
Maupin said he was negotiating with police to be able to get through the line of officers.
Maupin ordered the crowd to sit down, but appeared to have lost some control of the crowd.
"We're tired of sitting down," one man responded.
Police began to threaten arrests.
Mark Hunter said he was at the rally because, "it's a movement for my people."
He said he was a bit nervous about possible violence at the rally, but "you stand for something or die for anything."
The crowd began to regroup, calling for everyone to head west down Fillmore instead. Many continued to hold their hands up, yelling,
"Don't shoot...Reroute, reroute! They can't stop us all night!"
The crowd began to get increasingly heated as they reached the barrier of police. People began to lie down on the ground, yelling, "No justice, no peace."
Police deployed more pepper spray. Arizona Republic photographer Thomas Hawthorne was among those hit.
The crowd cheered as it pushed forward, northbound on 7th Street, past Van Buren Street and headed toward Interstate 10.
Police began to use officers dressed in riot gear with shields to physically barricade 7th Street and Filmore Street. Police deployed pepper spray. The crowd gathered as people got louder, yelling, "Hands up, don't shoot!"
More uniformed officers were visible now, on Jefferson Street in front of Chase Field. Many were in tactical gear, standing stone-faced as protesters hurled obscenities at them.
Police have closed off ramps to Interstate 10 as a precaution. Protesters have threatened to march onto the freeway and shut it down.
— Rafael Carranza (@RafaelCarranza) July 9, 2016
At 7th Street and Washington Street, no one seemed to know what's going on. One woman repeatedly pleaded, "regroup!"
Phoenix Chief Joe Yahner argued with Maupin, trying to convince him not to try to shut down the freeway.
Yahner told The Republic, "He is not going to shut down the freeway. That is not going to happen."
No arrests have been made so far, said Assistant Chief Mike Kurtenbach. Kurtenbach described the conversation as an effort to keep the dialogue going.
Sitting in an old, white Chevrolet at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Central Avenue, Ralph and Virginia Jansen watched the protesters pass by. Slowly.
"Is this that Black Lives Count thing?" Ralph asked.
Headed home from a basketball game at Talking Stick Arena, the Jansens were still miles from their Scottsdale home. Now, they were stuck.
"It's inconvenient, to say the least," Ralph said. His thoughts on the protest's motives depended on how quickly they'd get out of his way.
When the protest moved on and continued down Jefferson Street, Ralph turned the car around, headed back the way they came.
The crowd seems to have thinned only slightly as the march continues, at a quicker clip, east toward 7th Street.
So far, no police have interfered with the extended plan to move toward Interstate 10. Maupin said the goal was to shut down the freeway.
Nearby restaurant-goers and onlookers recorded the march with smart phones, some clapping and cheering them on.
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Milton Stone, 32, of Laveen, attended the rally with three cousin and their four children.
"You have to teach them young to get out, stand up for yourself and protect yourself if you have to," he said about bringing the kids to the rally in downtown Phoenix.
He had a red backpack hanging from his shoulders with food, water and a first-aid kit, he said.
Stone held above his head a sign that in colorful letters read, "Justice for ___! I left it blank because I'll probably need this next year."
Stone said he made the sign with help from his son in 2012 when Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman in Florida.
"The murders have only gotten worse", said Stone. "I feel sad. At first I was very peaceful, but I'm not that peaceful now. The police are not for us, for real."
Matthew Meinecke, Trump supporter, displayed a torn campaign sign. He said he was at the rally only to support Trump's presidential campaign.
He said Trump will "unite" us.
As the march started again, Tanzania Wimberley held her daughter's hand and nudged her forward.
Her daughter, Bre, is 4 and Wimberley said she doesn't want her to grow up in fear.
"I think it's important for her to know," she said. "Not that black people have to live in fear, but to be careful, to be cautious so she doesn't end up in a situation like this."
Maupin told the marchers that they were continuing past the planned ending spot at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
"We're headed to 7th Street and then 'to the interstate,'" Maupin said. "Are you enjoying taking over the streets of your city?"
"Yeah!," the crowd responded.
The new plan, according to Maupin, "We are going to shut down the freeway."
The crowd began chanting "hands up, don't shoot!" as it walked the block of Jefferson Street between 4th and 3rd avenues. The route was nearly complete. The rally was scheduled to end at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, 301 W. Jefferson St.
Joseph Toma, 20, walked down the sidewalk, "overwhelmed" by his first rally, with a lit candle honoring this week's police shooting victims.
"All lives matter. Black and blue," he said, though he said he believes there are good police officers and bad police officers.
"The movement, Black Lives Matter, should be recognized," he said.
Daisha Washington, 12, spent Friday night with her mom and dad, marching through Phoenix in support of Black Lives Matter.
Frederick Galbert, Daisha's father, and Trina Washington, her mother, walked hand-in-hand with their daughter as the protest wound through the streets. Daisha excitedly shouted, "Black lives matter!" with the crowd while her mother gave her a tug to keep up.
"We're out here tonight as a family because I want my daughter to see that people are different and have different views," Galbert said. "I want her to know that some people in life aren't going to want her to succeed. But I also want her to know that I'm not going to stand for that and neither should she."
Both of Daisha's parents said they experienced police brutality in their hometown of Chicago.
"That's why I left and came out here, I needed to get away from that," Washington said. "I just want my daughter to see that you've got to stand up for yourself. I told my whole family - brothers, sisters, cousins - to come out here."
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Police maintained a subtle yet constant presence throughout the march. Many remained in plain clothes but displayed their badges as they walked in threes on the fringes of the rally.
It was a noteworthy departure from their tactics in late 2014, during the marches after the fatal officer-involved shooting of Rumain Brisbon. At that time, uniformed officers paralleled and followed the demonstration from either side of the street,
The group stopped at Washington Street and 7th Avenue and people started to head uptown before someone started yelling, "Where are you going? McDonalds?"
There were still hundreds of protesters, filling entire blocks on Jefferson Street. The crowd seemed to have lost a bit of its energy though, with only about 20 percent of the marchers joining in the various chants at this point. They stopped at ever intersection to regroup as they moved to the next location.
IT WILL HAPPEN "AMERICAN BLACKOUT"
The crowd stopped and recharged at 5th Avenue and Jefferson Street, stopping briefly to chant "no justice no peace " before marching on to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. This time, nearly all of the some-500 participants joined in.
"I think people showed up," Maupin told the Arizona Republic during a moment of relative silence.
About 20 protesters led the march, carrying a 30-foot "Black Lives Matter" banner.
They were alternating rallying cries, from "hands up, don't shoot" to "what do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
The crowd linked arms midway to Phoenix police headquarters, on Washington Street and 4th Avenue. Although a few stray protesters screamed with messages of their own, the crowd largely obeyed Maupin and the other organizers' requests.
When organizers yelled "no justice," protesters dutifully responded "no peace"
Protesters stop to thank, hug and talk to police along walk.
They silenced when Maupin introduced the mother of Michelle Cusseaux, a mentally ill black woman who was fatally shot by a Phoenix officer in 2014.
The crowd cheered after the Trump supporter was taken down shortly after the March began, and was questioned by police. It was unclear whether he was arrested.
The crowd erupted after a handful of counter protesters began shouting anti Black Lives Matter messages from across the street. One displayed a Donald Trump sign, while at least two others purported to be spreading the word of the Gospel, calling the protesters' message racist.
A woman staggered up to them, bracing against a cane with each step.
She stepped up the curb to draw even with one of the counter protesters and held a middle finger to his face, inches from his sunglasses.
"You suck!" she screamed, struggling to be heard over the crowd. "I'm a white woman, and you suck."
The counter protesters seemed only to embolden the marchers, though the crowd splintered on how to treat them. Some ran to scream in their foes' faces, while other, equally vocal marchers insisted that attention was exactly what the counter protesters wanted.
Dean Saxton was one of the counter protesters. He said when hundreds of protesters rushed toward him and his "Brother in Christ," all he heard was noise.
The screams faded away. Their middle fingers, inches from his face,didn't back him down.
"These people operate under emotion," Saxton said. "It was all kind of a mumble. It was probably normal."
Saxton and Levi Cross have traveled to multiple states to spread what they call Gospel beliefs. They're both white, both young -- Saxton is 25, Cross 27.
The Black Lives Matter movement, they said, is based on sin: pride, selfishness, murder.
"This movement is about murder," Saxton said as the lights of a police motorcycle flashed behind him. "It's about killing cops. It's about racism."
Neither said he was concerned about the string of police shootings that have heightened racial tensions across the country.
"If you disobey and order, you should be shot, Saxton said. "You should be killed."
As his friend spoke, Cross tugged at his shirt. A bulletproof vest poked out from under the collar.
About 300 Black Lives Matter protesters congregated on the sidewalks outside Phoenix City Hall Friday night, despite urging from city leaders and police to postpone the demonstration for when tempers have simmered.
The crowd galvanized as its controversial organizer, Rev. Jarrett Maupin spoke before the march.
Young, black men and women held a small majority at the rally, but were joined by supporters of all races and ages. A few wore Guy Fawkes masks - symbolic of the Anonymous movement - and many showed off posters scribbled with #blacklivesmatter
A man holds a flag w/ Anonymous logo over crossbones. Next to him, shirt says, "Got Ammo?"
Andy Hernandez threw his American flag, hung upside-down on its pole, to the ground. He spread the corners and smoothed the crinkles.
Holding a fist high, he stepped onto the flag, right where stars meet stripes.
Andy Hernandez, 60, is a Chicano Nationalist. Sees similarities in his movement & BLM
Hernandez, 60, is a former member of the Brown Berets, a Chicano Nationalist group. He said he saw similarities between his movement and the protesters'.
"I believe there is a lot of police brutality and injustice," he said. "People of color, or leftist Americans, they have a right to rebel."
He didn't plan on burning the flag. Not here, he said. He didn't want to be arrested.
DeAnna Woodards stood at the rally surrounded by her children, ages 6, 8, 13 and 15.
"I'm tired of seeing our black men killed," she said. "(My kids) need to know, especially my boys, they can be taken away."
Woodards said she's not fearful of violence against their family affair at the rally because "we prayed before we came... Fear, that's negative."
Amanda Mays said she came to the rally because of the injustice happening around the country and to support her community and her son, Tyler Mays.
Tyler said said that in some ways he was afraid of the country he is living in because there are people against him because of his race and what he believes in.
"But (this rally) is the safest place for me," he said. "People have the same values as I do."
About 300 people had arrived at the rally, and more continued to come.
As a child, Kim Johnson listened as her grandmother told her about racism "back in the day."
But, she said, "We're still living in it."
The 18-year-old from Minnesota attended her first protest "simply because of the unjust," expressing general fear for her loved ones of color and preaching respect for the victims, rather than justifying violence.
Community members have begun to gather for an 8 p.m.Friday outside Phoenix City Hall for a rally to protest the police shootings of Black men around the country.
IT WILL HAPPEN "AMERICAN BLACKOUT"
From City Hall, the crowd will march three blocks west to Phoenix Police Department headquarters at 620 W. Washington St. and then to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office at 310 W. Jefferson St. There will be speakers along the way.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and local police officials asked for the rally to be postponed in light of the fatal police shootings in Dallas on Thursday, but the Rev. Jarrett Maupin said the event would go on as planned. Maupin said there never had been an act of violence during civil-rights protests in Phoenix and said this rally would remain non-violent, too.
"Our demonstration will continue to honor those people killed and the officers," Maupin said. "We will not stop."
Maupin said the movement isn't anti-police but is rather anti-abuse and anti-excessive force. He said the rally would focus on those issues and the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., this week. The rally was scheduled before the Dallas shootings.
The rally is not affiliated with the official Arizona Black Lives Matter campaign, according to the state's campaign chairman, Reginald Walton. Members of that group were encouraging residents to not attend Maupin's rally.
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