Politics

DPS Closes Ramp at I-10 and 16th Street for Trump Protest

Protesters at 16th Street and Interstate 10 in Phoenix on Friday.
Protesters at 16th Street and Interstate 10 in Phoenix on Friday. Ray Stern
Arizona Department of Public Safety officers were in full riot gear Friday afternoon after closing the ramp to 1-10 from 16th Street to accomodate a protest against President Donald Trump.

The protest was announced on Facebook.

The crowd that gathered on the I-10 overpass began showing up around 3 p.m. and reached about 50 people total, said Sergeant Mercedes Fortune, a Phoenix police spokeswoman.

Roughly 40 were still there by about 5:30 p.m. on Friday.  ADOT said in a tweet at 7:14 p.m. Friday that it reopened the ramp.

The group was a somewhat random assortment — a couple of Green Party supporters, masked "anti-fascists," Black Lives Matter activists and anti-deportation and pro-immigrant demonstrators.

They had one target in common: Trump.

Asked who organized the protest, a participant pointed to Sumayyah Dawud, a transgender Muslim woman wearing a burqa.

Dawud was featured in a November 2015 New Times article by Miriam Wasser about her struggles with discrimination at a local mosque. She declined an interview on Friday, saying she was tired of media attention.

Several protesters displayed signs on the overpass's chain-link barrier high above the freeway.

Meanwhile, a couple-dozen or more police officers and state troopers in riot gear stood ready for action, if that became necessary. It never did.

Troopers and their vehicles blocked the freeway ramps as they did for the "Rally for Justice" protest in July that resulted in what resembled a siege at 7th Street and I-10.

Uniformed and plain-clothed police were also on hand. Sergeant Fortune said they were there mainly to make sure protesters didn't throw things down on freeway motorists.

Jose Garcia of Phoenix, one of the protesters, displayed an upside-down flag for the drivers below. He said he was protesting the United States — the bad parts.

"I saw them deporting veterans," he said, referring to an Obama Administration policy. "I was not happy with that... They fight for us."

"We're tired for the deportation," Uriel Rodriguez of Phoenix said. "My family has gone to Mexico, and that's a very sad situation. We come here for better life. We haven't stolen nothing. Every day we come, we work hard, we pay tax."

Maria Medina, who lives the neighborhood nearby, had a U.S. flag. (Hers wasn't upside-down.) She said she was protesting Trump.

"I just heard on the news that they were going to be here, this group, so I came to support them," she said.

See below for more photos of the protest:

click to enlarge Two members of a small crowd that gathered Friday  to protest President Donald Trump. - KURTIS BARTON
Two members of a small crowd that gathered Friday to protest President Donald Trump.
Kurtis Barton

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.