Protesters demonstrate against police brutality at First Friday in downtown Phoenix

Demonstrators march down Roosevelt Street as part of a protest against police brutality Friday. (Photo by Jonathan Williams) Demonstrators march down Roosevelt Street as part of a protest against police brutality Friday. (Photo by Jonathan Williams)

Protesters chanted against police brutality and filled the street followed by dozens of police officers and squad cars Friday night during downtown Phoenix's First Friday art walk.

Around 30 protesters, dressed in black, gathered together in a small pop-up park on Roosevelt and Third streets, shadowed by police. By 9 p.m., the protest had begun.

The protest, which centered around the issue of police brutality on a local and national scale, came just weeks after  Michelle Cusseaux was shot an killed by a Phoenix Police officer in her home. Cusseaux's mother had called police asking for help when Cusseaux, who has a history of mental illness, wielded a hammer.

The protests also come after the death of teenager Michael Brown. Brown was shot and killed by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown's death has sparked many protests in Ferguson and across the country.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson, spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said safety would not be a concern as long as the protesters “obey the law.”

“It’s one of the cool things about the United States,” Thompson said. “We’re here to honor that right.”

At one point, the protesters began to shout at police officers. Sirens and bullhorns sounded under the dim orange lights downtown along with vulgarity directed at officers.

Two protesters with Guy Fawkes masks draped over their face had flags with messages against police brutality.

The protesters, who wished to remain anonymous because of their involvement in the events, said they hoped the events would be peaceful but the police presence provokes violence.

Charles Park, who lives in Phoenix, was one of many people attending the popular event on Roosevelt Street.

Park said that he didn’t feel threatened by the protest because they were exercising their legal right to protest.

“I don’t see that violence is the answer,” Park said.

Initially, the group stayed near Roosevelt Street, but they soon turned onto Fifth Street as police followed.

Protesters then filled the streets and sat in front of the police cars to block their paths.

Later, the protest moved back to Roosevelt Street and police officers with riot gear began to assemble.

As of 10:30 p.m., the protest had dispersed with no major injuries reported.

Demonstrators protest police brutality at First Friday from The State Press on Vimeo.

Reach the reporter at jwilli62@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @JonWilliams_23


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