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Tucson police will enforce curfew; anti-racism protests continued over weekend

'Our goal is not to make arrests, but we are willing to make them' — Chief Magnus

Tucson police will begin enforcing a curfew as part of a statewide order, issued by Gov. Doug Ducey on Sunday afternoon, as protests over the death of George Floyd while in the hands of police continued across the country, including confrontations in Arizona.

Ducey announced that for the next week, beginning Sunday at 8 p.m. police will enforce a nightly curfew. The order bars all persons from being present in any public place each night, except for law enforcement and emergency services, reporters, and one very substantial loophole: anyone patronizing or working at a private business, or traveling to one.

Related: Ducey orders 8 pm curfew across Arizona after 2nd night of unrest

Ducey announced his move in a tweet, providing no details about how his declaration of a state of emergency will be enforced. More than an hour later, his office posted the text of the emergency order. Tucson officials said that they were blindsided by the order.

During a press conference on Sunday, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said that she did not receive a call from the governor, but that she and Police Chief Chris Magnus were considering such a move. 

"Frankly, the chief was going to recommend to me that we institute a curfew," she said. "And we would have liked to have much more flexibility in terms of the area." 

Earlier Sunday, Romero said that she learned of the order from Ducey's tweets. "We have less than six hours to plan and have not see the (executive order)," she said on Twitter. "During times of emergency, it's critical that we have a strong line of communication."

Related opinion: George Floyd protests: Who's controlling the narrative of Black America?

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Magnus said that officers will not "dragnet" the city for anyone out in public, but rather their intention is to enforce the curfew by advising people, that "first of all they are in violation," of the order, "and give them a chance to leave. If they don't leave, or it's obvious to us that they have returned," he said, officers will make arrests. 

"Our goal is not to make arrests, but we are willing to make them," he said. Magnus added that officers will be "reasonable" and give people the "benefit of the doubt." 

City Attorney Mike Rankin said that violation of the curfew is class one misdemeanor, and carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and probation 

City officials repeatedly said that private businesses can be open, and that people can go to them as needed, but noted that some businesses were closing early to avoid confusion. Some businesses announced closures before Ducey clarified his order by releasing details.

While Ducey's declaration also authorizes an expanded National Guard mobilization, Tucson officials said that they have "not made that request." 

The governor's declaration came just a few hours after he issued a statement Sunday morning, condemning the "looting and violence we saw last night, especially in Scottsdale."

"Destruction of property does not qualify as freedom of expression," Ducey said.

The ACLU called the curfew is "an extraordinary and sweeping measure that raises serious constitutional concerns." 

'Difficult 72 hours'

During the press conference, Romero thanked those who demonstrated last night early, who peacefully went out a "made their voices heard." 

"For much of it, we saw a part of Tucson, which we love. Unfortunately as peaceful demonstrators went home, we saw violent agitators arrive to scene," she said. 

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"To those individuals whose sole intention is to cause destruction I just have this to say: your violence will not be tolerated," Romero said. "Your attempt to co-opt a movement, and sow hate is sad, painful and diminishes an important message." 

"We have seen these behaviors elsewhere in the country, with individuals coming up with the sole purpose of causing destruction. Their goal is not to seek justice for Mr. George Floyd, but to paint peaceful protestors as violent agitators, and provide fuel to the fire for those who wish to divide our community." 

"It's been a very difficult 72 hours, as you well know, and we really thought last night that we were making ground, and we did initially," Magnus said. But, as Magnus described it, a march that was successful. "We really thought things went well and they did for that, but we were disappointed and surprised frankly" that instead of the event breaking up, people again tried to go back downtown and "create as much disruption, property damage, and frankly violence as possible," he said. 

As Magnus described it, late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, officers faced both small and large groups for hours as people tried to break through their lines into the downtown area, leading to skirmishes that ran until 3:30 to 4 a.m. 

Magnus said that he had pledged to the business community in downtown to keep the area safe, and officers responded by blocking people, including a hours-long clash between protesters at the railroad line that crosses 4th Ave. and 6th Ave., and the 8th Ave. crossing. 

As officers set up their lines, protestors repeatedly were pushed back by salvos of pepper-balls that sent the crowd reeling up 7th Street until officers took over the intersection at 6th Ave. While protestors were there, a woman tried to smash through the window of Exo Coffee, but was scolded by other members of the crowd. 

Magnus said that people threw stones, water bottles, and bricks at officers, and some officers were lightly injured. However, a Tucson firefighter was hit in the face by a brick, Magnus said. 

At least 8 people were arrested, all of them Tucson residents, including one man who was arrested for felony assault on a police officer. Magnus said that in his backpack was a semi-automatic pistol shaped like a small AR-15 rifle.

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said that he had spoken to the governor by phone Saturday afternoon, and "reviewed" the governor's executive order. 

"It is clear that the governor supports law enforcement and desires to provide us with another tool to address the unlawful and violent behavior we have experienced over the past couple of nights. We know as the night progresses the level of violence and criminality tends to escalate," he said, adding that the curfew should "help to address this by making it unlawful to be out in public" after the 8 p.m. deadline. "It is not the intent of the governor, or of his declaration, to prohibit lawful conduct and commerce," Napier said. Rather, the declaration "gives law enforcement an additional much needed tool to address," what he called  "unlawful and violent behavior." 

As protests continue nationwide, federal officials lean in

Trump administration officials also announced the deployments of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces. 

On Sunday morning, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said that the agency was "deploying officers, agents and aviation assets across the country" to help aid officials "confronting the lawless actions of rioters." Earlier this week, one of CBP's Predator drones was orbiting Minneapolis and providing intelligence to officials on the ground. 

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that federal law enforcement officials will be directed to apprehend and charge the "violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law." This will include agents who work with the FBI's 56 regional Joint Terrorism Task Forces. 

"With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements.  Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda," Barr said, and he blamed "Antifa and similar groups" for the violence in many cities. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Two men continue to demonstrate on 7th Street on Saturday night while lights from a police vehicle shine east.


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