Phoenix Demonstrations Related to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Fizzle

As parts of Ferguson, Missouri, burned and hundreds gathered in New York City's Times Square, related demonstrations in the Phoenix area mostly fizzled.

Following Monday's announcement that no criminal charges would be forthcoming for a white Ferguson police officer who shot an unarmed black teen in August, the largest gathering in the Phoenix metro area occurred in downtown Tempe, where up to three dozen protesters held signs and marched.

See also: -Video: Police-Brutality Protesters Arrested, Shot With Pepper Balls in Phoenix

Black community leaders were expected to gather at the federal courthouse in Phoenix at about 8 p.m. last night. Jarrett Maupin, a local civil-rights activist, told New Times that several black activists, including someone from the NAACP, had been there and that he was on his way. If Maupin or anyone else showed up, we missed them -- all we saw were a few police officers, courthouse security guards and bored reporters in TV trucks. One cop we met said no demonstrators showed up.

Back in Tempe, several protesters reportedly split up after an argument. At about 9 p.m., no protesters remained at the Beach Park, but several marched to Tempe police headquarters on Fifth Street and back along Mill Avenue.

"Freedom! Freedom! All these racist-ass cops, we don't need 'em, need 'em!" demonstrators chanted as they marched.

Some of the protesters were with the activist group Wave of Action, whose members were on the receiving end of police pepper balls during a protest last month against police brutality. But Tempe police displayed a minimal presence last night, and no skirmishes were reported.

"Last night there were about 30 demonstrators and we had absolutely no problems whatsoever with any of them," says Tempe police Lieutenant Michael Pooley. "There were no arrests made nothing damaged and everything was peaceful."

The situation was much different in various parts of the country following news of the grand-jury decision on Monday night. As the nation watched on TV, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the grand jury had found no probable cause upon which to induct Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of 17-year-old Michael Brown. Most of his statements centered around the idea that the grand jury had heard too many conflicting accounts of the incident to pin a crime on the officer, and the shooting scenario he outlined based on available evidence left many questions open about what happened. After a large crowd gathered in Ferguson, flaming debris could be seen being pitched into the rows of riot police, and shots were soon heard. Fires and looting came afterward, leaving smoldering ruins this morning.

Thousands of protesters took to streets across the nation. Hundreds gathered in Boston and New York City. Dozens of people blocked freeway traffic in Oakland, California. Several hundred people marched and shut down roads in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Before the decision had been announced, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Art Mobley of the International Brotherhood Fellowship and Maupin encouraged Valley residents to demonstrate peacefully.

Phoenix metro area demonstrators, so far, are doing most of their protesting at home. The weather's going to be beautiful this weekend, and the issues of police brutality and the Michael Brown case aren't going away anytime soon.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m. -- Maupin just issued a news release announcing a rally for tonight in Phoenix:

"After Ferguson: Black civic groups to hold Arizona town hall on police brutality, racism, and the future...

"Arizona's Black fraternities/sororities, NAACP college chapters, and Rev. Jarrett Maupin (moderator) to host town hall and rally today at 6:30PM at the historic Eastlake Park center after the Ferguson grand jury's decision not to indict a white officer in the slaying of 18yr old Michael Brown. The forum will address issues of protestor violence, police brutality, and announcements of a local civil disobedience campaign.

"6:30PM tonight, 11/25/14

"Historic East Lake Park Center 1549 E. Jefferson Street in Phoenix"

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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.