Photos by Madeline Pado and Connor Radnovich
Nine people were arrested in midtown Phoenix Wednesday during a protest against Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.
Most were arrested for “blocking a public thoroughfare” while sitting on Central Avenue near a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement processing center, Phoenix Police officials said.
The Phoenix Police Department was in contact with the protesters before the march but was not told sitting in the street was part of the plan, Phoenix Police Department Det. Chris Wilson said.
Police estimated the crowd to be at least 400 people.
After stopping on Central Avenue between Holly Street and Monte Vista Road, the protesters quickly spilled onto the streets, sitting around a large sign.
Police asked the protesters to get off the road, but the majority of the crowd wouldn’t budge.
The group began chanting, “Arrest Arpaio, not the people,” “Whose streets? Our streets,” and “We will not comply.”
Soon after the protesters sat down in the street, police in riot gear arrived on the scene.
Wilson said they were called in because the protesters were blocking the street and police were worried about there being a mob mentality in the crowd.
The riot police’s first priority appeared to be making sure the light rail that had been stuck for around 20 minutes could get through.
The police were there for the protesters’ safety, Wilson said.
Arrests began about 20 minutes after riot police arrived, with police warning the protesters beforehand they could be arrested for disorderly conduct or blocking a public thoroughfare.
More than 40 riot police were on scene when the first man was arrested.
The others were arrested within the next 15 minutes.
Afterward, rally leaders asked protesters to return to Civic Space Park — where the rally began several hours earlier — and then to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail to wait for those who were arrested to be released.
Video by Connor Radnovich
Most of the crowd left, but about 150 protesters remained behind and slowly dispersed over the next hour.
Phoenix College criminal justice major Jose Alvarado said he marched because his college’s chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan participated as a group.
“At first I didn’t know what to do or how to get involved, but since I’ve joined M.E.Ch.A., I’ve gotten more involved and I’m going to keep going with it,” he said.
Carlos Garcia, 29, lead organizer of human-rights advocacy group Puente Arizona, initially said the arrests “just happened, but the brave people who did it, we stand by them.”
Garcia later recanted, saying he knew the first five arrested had planned it beforehand, but that he was not involved.
“It was definitely planned on their part,” he said.
Organizer Jason Odhner said the planners of the event intended for the first five arrests.
“We decided that there needed to be a show of visible resistance,” Odhner said. “Five people stepped forward and volunteered to make that sacrifice.”
When told that Garcia had said Puente Arizona was not involved in the planning of arrests, however, Odhner said he was mistaken.
“Carlos is right, then,” he said. “What Carlos’ message is, is my message.”
Puente organizer Kevin Partido, 18, said Puente worked with police ahead of time to organize the event, but that no plans were made regarding protesters in the streets.
Partido said he could not say whether Puente planned for protesters to be arrested.
“Our organization, whatever we do, we don’t talk to anybody about it,” he said.
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