PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey has imposed an 8 p.m. weeklong curfew across Arizona, citing the need to do so because of “lawlessness” during two nights of protests in Tucson and the Phoenix area.
The governor said the incident in Minneapolis that resulted in the death of George Floyd at the hands of police is “tragic and abhorrent.
“It should be condemned by leaders at all levels,” he said.
But Ducey, following disturbances in several Arizona cities, said even before he issued his curfew order Sunday afternoon that he finds violence and looting unacceptable.
“The looting and violence we saw last night, especially in Scottsdale, simply cannot be tolerated,” Ducey said.
“And it won’t be,” Ducey continued. “Destruction of property does not qualify as freedom of expression.”
Ducey’s new order, issued Sunday afternoon, puts those words into action, starting with the curfew. The order bans individuals from “using, sitting, standing, sitting, traveling or being present on any public street or in any public place, including for the purpose of travel.” It runs through 5 a.m. each night, through Monday, June 8.
And by “public place,” the governor said it means “any place, whether on privately or publicly owned property, accessible to the general public.” That specifically includes public streets, alleys, highways, driveways, sidewalks, parks, vacant lots and any “unsupervised property.”
The order was taken under the same laws that Ducey said gave him the authority to issue a stay-home order and restrict business operations due to COVID-19.
Violations are a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine — aside from any other charges that might be leveled against those arrested.
But there are broad exceptions, including for people going directly to and from work, attending religious services, trucking and delivery services and caring for a family member, friend or animal.
And there are several large loopholes, including patronizing or operating private businesses and “obtaining food.”
He said the governor’s order is designed to “proactively prevent” looting and criminal behavior seen at some protests, especially on Saturday in Scottsdale.
In issuing the order, Ducey said in a Twitter post that it “gives law enforcement an additional tool to prevent the lawlessness we have seen here and in cities nationwide.
“Police will be equipped to make arrests of individuals who are planning to riot, loot or cause damage and unrest,” the governor said.
Gubernatorial press aide Ptak echoed that theme, citing in particular the looting and damage caused Saturday at Scottsdale Fashion Square mall and nearby businesses. Police said 12 were arrested. That followed disturbances in Phoenix on Saturday during which police arrested 114.
“Now law enforcement has a tool to address that,” he said. “And it’s also a message that we don’t want to see that again.”
In Tucson, eight people were arrested during a protest Saturday night. Officers were struck with rocks and bottles.
On Sunday, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said the department expected to enforce the curfew to help prevent criminal behavior, especially in areas where there have been confrontations with police during two nights of protests.
Magnus said the department was preparing for another night of protests Sunday night.
The move follows protests across the country against police brutality, sparked most recently by the death of George Floyd, who was killed under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on Monday.
Ducey said he was acting “at the request of local leaders and in coordination with state and local law enforcement.”
Mayor Regina Romero said Sunday she found out about the curfew on Twitter and that neither she nor Magnus had been contacted by Ducey’s office.
“The governor did call the chief yesterday (Saturday) morning,” Sigal said. “My understanding is that call was sort of a general check-in.”
Annie DeGraw, aide to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, said her boss also was kept in the dark. “We learned on Twitter along with the rest of the world,” she said.
“We have not had any discussions with him about a curfew; we have not had any discussions with him about protests,” DeGraw said. “We have not had any discussions with him about pretty much anything in many months.”
Ptak said that’s not true.
“We talked with mayors, including of our largest cities,” he said. “This is action that was supported throughout those conversations, including whether it would happen statewide or at the local level.”
Anyway, Ptak said, the governor had “absolutely heard” that if he had not done this on a statewide basis “it likely would have been done on a city-by-city basis.”
That, however, raises the question of why a problem that exists in a few urban areas should lead to a statewide curfew .
“From what we’ve heard, there is a need for this statewide,” Ptak said. And, if nothing else, he said that having a curfew would ensure “we’re using law enforcement resources the most effectively.
“And that includes consolidated resources around the state where they can be most useful,” Ptak said.
Ducey also has authorized an “expanded National Guard mobilization” to deal with the protests. Guard soldiers already have been placed on duty to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ptak said soldiers would be in a support role, providing vehicles, barriers and other kinds of preparation “in coordination with what local law enforcement needs.”