On August 22, thousands of people from all walks of life gathered outside Phoenix Convention Center to protest Pres. Donald Trump’s rally. During his rally, Trump reiterated that “both sides” were to blame for the Charlottesville catastrophe, doubled down on his rhetoric about building “the wall,” and stated his plans to pardon racist Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man responsible for the inhumane treatment of both immigrants and inmates.
Nearly 10,000 showed up for this protest in a true testament to the solidarity of poor and working people of Phoenix and its surrounding cities. The abundance of signs that were at the protest was astounding and ranged from chipboard posters in support of Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, support for immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community.
Throughout the course of the rally, the crowds at the front lines held up their signs of protest and followed along to rousing chants shouted as a collective unit. People took turns leading the chants of “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” and, “The people united will never be defeated.”
The protest, although very rousing and empowering, remained peaceful for its entire duration. The claims of Phoenix police that protesters initiated violence couldn’t be further from the truth. Many feel that the attack was carried out in response to a plan announced by protesters to march on the Capitol against a monument to the Confederacy there.
By around 9:00 PM, Phoenix PD threw cans of tear gas, flash bang grenades, rubber and pepper bullets as protesters tried to escape the sudden and unprovoked violence. The initial attack was made on an area of the demonstration that was made up of a well known, peaceful immigrant rights organization, Puente, in addition to disabled attendees and a makeshift area designated for medical treatment by volunteer medics.
Christina Green told Liberation News, “As more tear gas was deployed, my friend and I became increasingly angry. What we witnessed that day were thoughtful, angry citizens holding a peaceful and civil protest against the many injustices of the trump administration; against Joe Arpaio and against the potential escalation of the Afghanistan war. When the first tear gas canister was shot into the crowd, we were next to clergymen and disabled members of the public.”
Amy Liu shared with Liberation News: “As the Trump supporters began to leave the convention center is when the police began to spray tear gas and fire rubber bullets. The police department later claimed four people threw water bottles or had tried to break past the metal barriers, but I was on the front lines and saw nothing of that sort. The police wanted to disperse us, so they offered no warning before they begin shooting. We stood our ground, chanting ‘hands up don’t shoot!’ until the police threw flash bang grenades at us, causing panic as people began running away. I was shot myself by a rubber bullet as the tear gas started burning my face and eyes. It was difficult to see anything but smoke and difficult to hear anything except explosions and screaming as they carried out the attack.”
Thankfully, most protestors were able to get away to safety in spite of the fog of tear gas and other violence that was unleashed on them. The protest was another contribution to the nationwide solidarity for an end to white supremacy sparked by Charlottesville.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation plans to join a mass action organized against Phoenix City Council for their ruthless attack by Phoenix PD on protesters. Join us on August 30 at 2:30 PM at Phoenix City Council Chambers!