Police Use Pepper Spray and Tear Gas During Phoenix Civil Rights Rally: Reports
Phoenix police used pepper spray and tear gas on protesters Friday night
Police at a civil rights rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday night used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse protesters, according to multiple reports.
Hundreds of activists gathered outside Phoenix City Hall – part of many planned protests across the nation in response to the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men who were shot and killed by police.
Their message mimicked the message of Thursday’s protest in Dallas before it turned deadly, when a single gunman opened fire on police, killing 5 officers and injuring 7 others.
Phoenix police formed in a human shield deployed pepper balls to “move advancing demonstrators back,” CNN reported, as protesters attempted to march onto the freeway. The victims had raised both their hands in the “Don’t shoot” gesture before police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the crowds, according to CNN.
Six were injured due to falls or exposure to the pepper balls, CNN said, with no officers hurt. Three people were arrested for throwing rocks, Phoenix police told the news network.
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Fox 10 explained the activists were made up of diverse groups – some yelling Black Lives Matter, others chanting Blue Lives Matter and some preaching All Lives Matter.
Phoenix police declared the gathering to be an “unlawful assembly” around 11 p.m., ABC 15 reported. Police Chief Joe Yahner told the station the time had come to disperse the crowd, but called the protest “successful” for having the demonstrators’ messages heard.
The crowd was dispersed by midnight, CNN said, adding that police helicopters warned any remaining protesters to go home.
The Phoenix police did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Many protesters documented the experience on social media, showing the moments when police used the tear gas on the crowd.
Similar protests across the nation had more peaceful results, CNN says, including marches in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta. No clashes with police have been reported from those events.