Scuffles Between So-Called Anarchists and Cops, and the Use of Pepper Spray, Mar Today's Anti-Arpaio March
California videographer Naui's footage from the pepper spray incident...the title and content is Naui's alone...
I am so disgusted by today's events at the big anti-Arpaio march to Joe's jails that I hardly know where to begin. The saddest part of it is that a mostly-peaceful demonstration of over 10,000 persons, which ended with a concert by Little Joe y La Familia and inspiring oratory from UFW legend Dolores Huerta, Zack de la Rocha and others, was marred by an apparent conflict between the Phoenix Police Department and those they describe as anarchists protesting alongside the other pro-immigration demonstrators.
The march was so large -- organizers say 20,000 and even the cops I've spoken with agree that it was more than 10K strong -- that the seriousness of events on the tail end of the march rounding 35th Avenue and Durango were not apparent to me until after the rally, when the end of the procession was completed. That's when numerous individuals showed me photos and video footage of children and ordinary people suffering from the effects of pepper spray administered by City of Phoenix gendarmes.
Many of the witnesses agree on a few key facts: That a female officer on horseback walked her horse into the crowd at one point; that the horse became agitated; that the female officer sprayed pepper spray into the crowd; and that scores of people, including women and children were overtaken by the fumes.
Add to that the ongoing antagonism of Phoenix anarchists towards the police in general, and the claim of the police that tensions between black clad anarchists and the cops began earlier in the march, at 35th Avenue and Van Buren. Police spokesperson Andy Hill said that there, traffic cones were thrown at a police officer. Sgt. Brian Murray, of the department's Community Response Bureau, said that one of the anarchists hit a Phoenix officer with a can of rocks, but no one was arrested at that point.
According to the info he received from officers on the scene, Hill said the female officer on horseback was assaulted by a woman on foot with a flagpole, and it escalated from there. None of the witnesses I spoke with actually witnessed the officer being assaulted, but they did see her discharge pepper spray into the crowd.
In total, five demonstrators were arrested, two white females and three white males, on charges ranging from aggravated assault to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
School counselor Laura Ilardo was near the incident, and described what she saw.
"She basically kind of walked the horse into the crowd," said Ilardo of the Phoenix cop, "into the group wearing black. Then all of a sudden the horse started to buck back and forth. People started trying to move away...the next thing I saw, she was pulling out the pepper spray. There was this giant stream...It covered the whole area, and everyone started running."
Ilardo described a little girl, about a year old, who had been hit with the pepper spray. And she was not the only child hurt. Video from California activist/videographer Naui shows a little boy crying because the pepper spray is burning his eyes.
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