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'We hear you': Phoenix police chief marches with protesters

The marches for George Floyd and Dion Johnson have brought thousands to downtown Phoenix throughout the week in solidarity against racial injustice.

PHOENIX — A wave of demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd and police brutality continued in Arizona for a ninth day Friday afternoon.

The marches have brought thousands of people to downtown Phoenix as the nation grapples with painful conversations of racial injustice.

Other demonstrations are happening in the city concurrently, including a prayer vigil.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams joined Friday's demonstration as a show of solidarity.

"We hear you," Williams emphasized. "You have forced us to hear you by your constant and incessant demonstration and wanting something different. We hear you"

Williams marched with protesters for a distance near the Phoenix Police Department.

"Y'all be safe, take care, we're listening," Williams told the crowd. 

Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers sparked nationwide protests that have, at times, been marred by looting and riots, but the demonstrations across Phoenix have remained peaceful with no arrests made this week.

Organizers say they're planning to expand to more cities as early as Saturday.

Marchers have also cited the shooting death of Dion Johnson by a DPS trooper as an example of police brutality, but details of the incident remain scarce. 

Johnson’s family released what they say is a dispatcher recording of the shooting, and ADOT video appears to show what happened in the moments after he was shot.

Some Arizona officials have asked the U.S. Justice Department to step in on the investigation. 

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Derek Chauvin, the now-fired officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for air, was handed a more serious second-degree murder charge on Wednesday and the three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

Meanwhile, in Scottsdale, organizers canceled a planned protest, but 30 to 50 protesters gathered anyway surrounded by a large police force backed up by the National Guard. 

One of the small demonstration’s loudest voices was Tracey Phillips, who said she lives nearby.

“I would’ve come out here by myself,” Phillips said Friday.

That enthusiasm is new. Phillips said she felt guilt and shame at never having supported the racial justice cause before, and she said she planned to return for future events.

“I’m very much aware of lost friends for speaking out. And that’s going to have to be the way it has to go. Because I can’t be silent anymore. And I’m not going to be.”

The modest protest stood in stark contrast to the chaos that erupted Saturday night at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Scottsdale police arrested 12 people and have since arrested eight more, but they estimate that 500 people wrought havoc on the Apple Store, a Mercedes Benz dealership, and other business along Scottsdale Road.

A statewide curfew from 8 p.m. through 5 a.m. was issued by Gov. Doug Ducey after the raucous scene, and it remains in effect until Monday, but protests have largely ended before that time.

Ducey called Scottsdale out directly for its poor response.

“Be like Phoenix, not Scottsdale," Ducey said on a phone call with Arizona mayors. “Being aggressive works.”

The ACLU is planning a demonstration in Scottsdale for Sunday night, and it's expected to be well attended.

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