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"Anarchists" to Blame For ALEC Disruption; "Occupiers" Relatively Tame. Cops Break Out the Pepper Spray

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Phoenix police were forced to use pepper-spray on a group of demonstrators protesting the American Legislative Exchange Council at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in northeast Phoenix this afternoon when the activists raised a little hell in front of the resort.

In at least one instance, a protester attacked police -- who were decked-out in full riot gear -- with a pole that had nails and screws sticking out of it.

Many of the protesters are part of the "Occupy Phoenix" movement that's (sort of) been going on in downtown Phoenix for nearly two months.

The "occupiers," however, were relatively well behaved, sources who were at the protest tell New Times. Some of their friends, on the other hand, were the main cause of the disturbance.

"Unfortunately a few Anarchist have joined the occupied movement and crowds tried to push their way through the police line on to the resort property," Phoenix Sergeant Trent Crump says. "OC spray was deployed twice on aggressive groups, which was effective in stopping their actions."

Many of those "anarchists" were from out of state, our source says, and were bussed in for the sole purpose of protesting the ALEC conference.

So far, Crump says, seven protesters have been arrested on charges of obstructing government operations, criminal damage and assault on a police officer.

ALEC describes itself as a non-partisan organization designed to "advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public."

Check out the group's website here.

Left-wing activists feel the organization has too much power over state Legislatures and uses corporate influence to impact policy decisions. Many lefties credit the organization with everything from promoting private prisons, to beating back labor unions, and even hold it somewhat responsible for SB 1070, Arizona's controversial immigration law.

See our story on ALEC here.

The conference is scheduled to run through Friday -- and we have a feeling the protesters won't be going anywhere.

Check back for updates.

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