The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona is calling for a probe of the police force used after President Trump’s recent rally in Phoenix.
“Shortly after Donald Trump finished attacking the First Amendment rights of the press inside of the Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix Police began attacking the First Amendment rights of protesters outside,” Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement Wednesday after Trump’s rally the night before.
“Who in the future would want to take the risk of protest in Phoenix when it is clear that the city’s police department will take physical action against them without cause or notice?” Soler added.
“We do not have faith that the law enforcement agencies involved in this abuse of power will hold themselves accountable so we are calling for an independent investigation that will provide real answers.”
Soler added that the ACLU of Arizona is particularly troubled by the Phoenix Police Department’s use of pepper balls and tear gas following Tuesday night’s event.
“The health risks associated with deploying so-called ‘nonlethal’ weapons cannot be understated. Tear gas and pepper spray can have devastating health effects.”
Trump’s rally in Phoenix late Tuesday reportedly ended in turmoil when thousands of people took to the city’s streets in protest. Law officers began using pepper balls and tear gas once demonstrators began hurling bottles and rocks at them, according to Phoenix police.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Tuesday that the use of force was “absolutely” justified during the chaos after Trump’s rally.
Some protesters told 3TV/CBS 5, however, that the police officers’ actions – including the use of “flash bangs” and rubber bullets – were unprovoked.
“It was peaceful,” Carlos Garcia, an organizer of one of the largest protests, said. “We started getting shot at by rubber bullets.”
Trump delivered fiery remarks late Tuesday that often resembled the raucous atmosphere of live events during his 2016 presidential campaign. The president repeatedly excoriated the media during the event, arguing that many journalists “don’t report the facts.”