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Protests declared 'unlawful assembly' in Downtown Phoenix Thursday, here's what that means

Police say some protesters tried to break into the Arizona State Capitol, threw rocks and bottles at officers, and damaged property.
Credit: 12 News

Protests in Downtown Phoenix Thursday night were declared unlawful by Phoenix Police after more than three hours of people taking to the streets.

Phoenix Police say an unlawful assembly was declared shortly before 11 p.m.

Police say some protesters tried to break into the Arizona State Capitol, threw rocks and bottles at officers, and damaged property including police cars, bus stops and Phoenix PD headquarters. Eight people were arrested after the protests according to police.

Across the country in Minneapolis, a CNN crew was arrested as Minnesota State Patrol was clearing a portion of Minneapolis Friday morning. 

While the crew identified themselves as members of the media and asked officers where they wanted them to go, three crew members were taken into custody. 

Minnesota State Patrol says they were later released after they were "confirmed to be members of the media." 

“That’s all very strange and that’s very disingenuous to claim the police didn’t know who they were arresting," constitutional attorney Dan Barr said.

The incident raised concerns about breaking up protests.

Barr says while everyone has a right to peacefully assemble, it’s not a free pass to break laws, and sometimes police have more cause to intervene.

“When it gets to property damage or doing things to cars and things like that I mean that’s illegal no matter what,” Barr said.

Barr says ultimately, law enforcement has the right to declare an unlawful assembly based on the time, manner, and place.

“You can protest but you can’t do things like block buildings, block traffic, do thinks that endanger the safety of other people,” Barr said.

He adds what’s important to remember is law enforcement cannot break up a protest because of the message.

“That can’t be judged whatsoever because that would be a violation of the First Amendment,” Barr said.

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