It was just hours after Scottsdale Fashion Square had been ransacked by looters.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was using the fiasco to teach Valley mayors how aggressive they need to be to protect their own cities.
“Be on the highest possible alert,” the governor said in a conference call with several mayors Sunday. An audio recording of the call was obtained by 12 News.
“Your expectation should be that these riots are coming to your town.”
In unusually candid terms, the Republican governor shamed the City of Scottsdale for what he described as an assault it should have seen coming.
“Believe it or not, everyone knew Scottsdale Fashion Square was a target,” Ducey said. “But the City of Scottsdale said they had it under control.”
Fashion Square has long been a glitzy destination for celebrities as well as tourists from across the country and abroad.
A social media post Saturday transformed the mall into a target. It called for taking “the hurt to the white people."
A Scottsdale police official said the next day that a former intern had shared the post with the department.
Scottsdale police said the looting spree caused “millions of dollars” in property damage and theft losses. Police were largely invisible as the violent rampage unfolded.
A dozen people were arrested. There were no reported injuries.
Ducey contrasted Scottsdale’s failure to prepare for the onslaught with the Phoenix Police Department’s response ahead of Saturday’s planned protest at police headquarters near downtown.
“Phoenix PD asked for support and additional resources and the National Guard and we happily delivered,” Ducey said.
Underlining his point, the governor went on:
“The takeaway here is, please be like Phoenix, not Scottsdale... Being aggressive works and we need to continue that approach.”
A Scottsdale spokesman provided this statement in response:
“Scottsdale PD was in communication with DPS, and once they determined assistance from outside agencies was necessary, they requested it. We are reviewing the incident to identify what could be done more effectively should future need arise.”
One new sign of Ducey’s “aggressive approach”: The governor’s 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. statewide curfew announced Sunday. The curfew expires June 8.
The governor said he imposed the curfew “at the request of local leaders.” But there is no evidence that "local leaders" asked for it.
A Ducey spokesman said the curfew was recommended by new Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert.
"We wanted this tool for law enforcement if they needed it.,” said Ducey communications director Patrick Ptak. “It was never about, 'Someone requested it so we did it.'"
Ptak said law enforcement and some cities had been discussing a curfew.
The curfew allows law enforcement to shut down protests at 8 p.m. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Ducey said he was asking for three things from Valley mayors and police departments:
- Share intelligence with DPS, and it will be reciprocated
- Be mobilized well into the early morning hours. That includes having all police cruisers ready for a “show of force,” if necessary.
- Have all police prepared.
“The objective is to stop it - not allow it to happen or escalate,” he said. “This week, we should be taking everything seriously.”
The governor claimed he's battling a national network that feeds off attention.
“They’re looking to hurt people, destroy property,” the governor said of the violent mobs that have overshadowed largely peaceful protests of the killing of George Floyd.
“But they also want that money shot on the nightly news.”
According to the Arizona Republic, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said Sunday that police had "information" that the looters were from an organization outside the Phoenix area.
No evidence has been provided to support that claim. A police spokesman said three of the 12 people arrested were from outside the Phoenix area.
There have been reports across the country of extremists using the Floyd protests for their own ends. Analysts say there is a wide range of fringe groups involved.