In an effort to prevent the looting and violence seen in other Phoenix and other U.S. cities in recent days, the state of Arizona is under a week-long curfew as part of a Declaration of Emergency.
The curfew began at 8 p.m. Sunday and will be in effect daily until 5 a.m. It is set to expire June 8 at 5 a.m.
Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Sunday afternoon that he was taking action at the request of local leaders and in coordination with state and local law enforcement.
“This gives law enforcement an additional tool to prevent the lawlessness we’ve seen here and in cities nationwide,” Ducey announced on Twitter. “Police will be equipped to make arrests of individuals who are planning to riot, loot or cause damage and unrest.”
Ducey’s declaration authorizes an expanded mobilization of the National Guard to protect life and property.
“Our office will continue to communicate with local law enforcement to provide whatever resources we can,” Ducey said.
Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said he understood the action by the governor to ensure readiness and provide the necessary tools to protect people and property.
“It’s best to be prepared,” he said late Sunday afternoon, “but I hope it it is not necessary.”
Price said he believed Maricopans would rise above such lawlessness because of “that civility we’ve always been known for.”
One Maricopa city council member, however, said the curfew was heavy-handed.
”The curfew does not require any business or function to shut down,” said Vincent Manfredi. “I see this as an overreaction at the state level because individual cities which have been impacted by rioting refused to act.”
The curfew prohibits congregating or traveling on public streets and at public places, but there are exemptions, including for law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics or other medical personnel, National Guard, as well as any other emergency response personnel authorized by the State of Arizona, and credentialed members of the media.
Also exempted are individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.
In cities nationwide on Saturday, peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis then became violent. In New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix, rioters clashed with police. Businesses were vandalized and looted and buildings set afire.
Protests continued Sunday in many cities, including Minneapolis and Washington, where people gathered in a park just a block from the White House. According to TV news reports, looting continued in Philadelphia on Sunday evening.
Earlier Sunday, Ducey released a statement commending law enforcement officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Phoenix Police Department, the National Guard and supporting agencies involved in protecting downtown Phoenix and major targets, like freeways.
“One thing is clear: The more aggressive approach downtown was needed, and it worked,” Ducey said in his statement. “Now, more needs to be done, in more places around the state, to protect law and order and public safety. The looting and violence we saw last night, especially in Scottsdale, simply cannot be tolerated. And it won’t be. Destruction of property does not qualify as freedom of expression.”
Video posted on social media showed people vandalizing and looting stores at the Scottsdale Fashion Square on Saturday night. At least 12 people were arrested, according to multiple media reports.
In Maricopa on Saturday night, police tweeted out their usual reminder for residents to lock up cars and close garage doors, but there was no report of any large-scale protest or violence.
“What we are seeing is happening in cities and states everywhere in America, and Arizona leaders need to be on high alert,” Ducey’s statement continued. “They need a plan. Today should be a working day for every local elected leader, city manager, police chief and sheriff in every jurisdiction in the state.
“The death of George Floyd is tragic and abhorrent. It should be condemned by leaders at all levels — and we should listen to those who seek to have a civil dialogue on how to ensure it never happens again. In Arizona, we will listen — and this was demonstrated by the leadership DPS Colonel Heston Silbert displayed on Thursday night as he engaged with protesters at the Capitol. This kind of leadership from law enforcement, working with community leaders, will get us through. But we cannot, and will not stand for violence, looting, and criminal activity.”
One group in Phoenix was moving up their protest walk by an hour to respect the curfew.
The Inclusive People’s Organization had planned to march from North Fifth Avenue to the headquarters of the Phoenix Police Department, beginning at 6 p.m. In a tweet, the organization said it was moving up the peaceful protest to 5 p.m., saying that “starting earlier lessens the risks and give participants more time to safely find transportation before 8PM.”
Disclosure: Vincent Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.