Scottsdale police said “millions of dollars in damages and theft” occurred in a late-night spasm of violence and looting hit Scottsdale Fashion Square and surrounding businesses.
The department said 12 people were arrested and booked into jail. No officers were injured.
Hundreds of people converged on the mall Saturday, smashing windows, tagging walls with graffiti and walking out with handfuls of merchandise.
The mall was closed Sunday because of the damage.
Video of the vandalism and theft raised questions about whether police could have done more to lessen the destruction.
“Life safety was the number one priority, thus, officers were not sent in to force a violent clash with criminal antagonists,” a police statement read.
Gov. Doug Ducey had strong words about the lawlessness and vandalism.
“The looting and violence we saw last night, especially in Scottsdale, simply cannot be tolerated. And it won’t be,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “Destruction of property does not qualify as freedom of expression.”
Alycia Porter and Joshua Hause swept up glass early Sunday outside Roche Bobios Paris, a high-end furniture store across the street from Scottsdale Fashion Square.
The two were among a dozen or so volunteers who showed up about 6 a.m. to help clean up after property damage to several businesses along Scottsdale and Camelback roads, including a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
The Scottsdale residents said they’d never seen anything like it.
A post that circulated on social media told people to meet at 10 p.m. Saturday at Scottsdale Fashion Square as an alternative to damaging “our own community.”
“We gone take this protest, rage, anger, sadness and hurt to the white people community,” the post read. “They need to hear our cry they need to LISTEN.”
The Phoenix chapter of Black Lives Matter put out a statement Saturday night saying it was not involved with the event at Scottsdale Fashion Square and expressed concern for the safety of the participants.
The three nights of protest in the Phoenix area in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other police killings have been concentrated in central Phoenix, near the Phoenix Police Department headquarters, City Hall and the state Capitol.
Most protests over the past week have focused on anger and anguish after Floyd, a black man who was killed in an altercation with Minneapolis police, and other people of color have bekilled by law enforcement officers. But the unrest that has now found its way to Scottsdale has underscored an economic divide in the country as well.
Porter and Hause said the situation in the country was frustrating for everybody, but their priority Sunday was to help businesses recover.
“There’s a lot less people cleaning up than there are that did the rioting,” Hause said. “That’s the only thing that should upset most people. Everyone’s ready to destroy something but they’re not here to pick up the mess.”
PROTESTS CONTINUE: Third night of Phoenix protests grow in frustration and damage
Picking up the pieces
Glass was shattered and inventory picked through at most of the outward-facing storefronts at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Businesses such as P.F. Chang’s, Culinary Dropout, Urban Outfitters and Sprinkles Cupcakes all suffered property damage.
A wedding dress inside David’s Bridal had been defaced with black spray paint, while the glass entrance of the Apple store, which faces east onto Scottsdale Road, was shattered, with the words “For Floyd” spray painted in red on the walls.
Around the corner, Rhoda Ciampi, the manager of Crate and Barrel, stood outside the store surveying the damage with police officers.
Ciampi said she was feeling “emotion” and sadness looking at the damage sustained to the store.
She said she was talking with police to board up the store and working to contact employees about next steps.
“We had a lot of customers that were coming in today so they’re going to be super disappointed,” Ciampi said. “I feel really bad.”
YouTube personality sets off fireworks
YouTube personality Jake Paul, who amassed a large following online for his controversial videos, posted to his Instagram Saturday night that he had been tear gassed by police at Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Other videos posted to Instagram by Paul’s videographer showed Paul and his friends firing off fireworks into the entrance of the mall.
The backlash on Twitter at Paul’s presence at the protest was swift, with one user writing, “Jake Paul, a millionaire, is looting a mall so that he could post a YouTube video about it and add more to his wealth.”
A petition calling for Paul’s arrest had 1,200 signatures as of Sunday morning.
Paul responded in a statement on Twitter Sunday that no one in his group was engaged in looting or vandalism and instead spent the day peacefully protesting “one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen.”
“I do not condone violence, looting, or breaking the law; however I understand the anger and frustration that led to the destruction we witnessed,” Paul wrote. “While it’s not the answer, it’s important that people see it and collectively figure out how to move forward in a healthy way.”
Police response under scrutiny
Scottsdale police said Sunday that officers from Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety were at the scene Saturday night.
“While some may have indeed come to join what they believed would be a peaceful protest, what occurred was neither peaceful, nor a protest. It was a riot that saw several dozens of individuals collectively damaging property at and near the mall, breaking into businesses and looting the interiors,” a department statement said.
At least one assault was reported, police said.
“Millions of dollars in damages and theft occurred at the hands of a group of lawless criminals. Our investigators have begun following up and any offenders who can be identified as having committed criminal acts will be arrested,” police said.
The mall and Camelback Road from Goldwater Boulevard to Scottsdale Road were closed until further notice, police said.
Officers remained at the scene.
“We stand together with our citizens who wish to exercise their right to peacefully assemble. But, lawlessness and terror are not protected and will not be tolerated,” police said.
Bob Littlefield, a candidate for Scottsdale mayor and former City Council member, said he had spoken with police officers who said they did not have the resources, like arrest teams, or riot gear, to respond to the vandals.
Littlefield said a lack of support for public safety and an attitude that an event of this type never could happen in Scottsdale were partly responsible for what he called an insufficient response.
“Even though this appears to have been an event that everybody knew was going to happen, at the top, people weren’t prepared,” Littlefield said. “When it happened, individual cops on the street didn’t have a lot of options for dealing with this.”
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