President Donald Trump gave a 77-minute speech at his Phoenix campaign rally Aug. 22. Following the rally, Phoenix police deployed pepper spray and tear gas into crowds of protesters stating that some tossed bottles and rocks at officers.
Several days before the rally, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had asked President Trump to postpone his visit to Arizona, saying “our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville.”
Mayor Stanton released the following statement in response to the night’s events.
“I am incredibly proud of the thousands of people and community organizations who exercised their First Amendment rights peacefully last night during what we knew would be a very tense and emotional scene. They represent the best of our community.
My top priority, and that of Police Chief Jeri Williams, was to ensure that every person who attended the Trump campaign rally, those who expressed themselves outside the Convention Center, and the police officers on duty, got home safely. I am grateful that happened, and that there were only four arrests.
It is disappointing beyond words that a few people chose to disrupt an otherwise peaceful night by throwing objects at police officers. Chief Williams has indicated that police took decisive steps to disperse the crowd because those objects included tear gas, bottles and rocks. To avoid a potentially dangerous physical confrontation with these disruptors, police used pepper spray — which had the unfortunate consequence of affecting some of those nearby who were peaceful.
I have no reason to believe that the community and civil rights organizations that helped organize the rally outside – and even trained their members beforehand to remain civil and peaceful — played any role in confronting police or throwing objects that preceded the dispersal. I am committed to ensuring that the Police Department conducts a thorough and transparent review of last night’s events so we can better understand what happened and make sure that our residents and officers are kept safe in the future as well.
Additionally, I have reached out to leaders of the organizations that took part in the rally, and both Chief Williams and I will sit down with them next week to hear their perspectives and concerns.”