PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey has urged several Arizona mayors to aggressively confront any rioting in their communities and singled out Scottsdale as an example of how not to approach the problem due to the city’s response over the weekend to looting at an upscale mall.
The governor told the mayors in a conference call on Sunday that their expectations “should be that these riots are coming to your town,” according to an audio recording of the call obtained by 12 News (KPNX-TV).
Businesses in Scottsdale suffered millions of dollars in damages from thefts and extensive vandalism carried out by hundreds of people who gathered Saturday night outside Scottsdale Fashion Square. Some were carrying guns and threw rocks at officers. A dozen people were arrested.
Ducey, who ordered a curfew across Arizona the day after the mall was looted, contrasted the approaches of Scottsdale and Phoenix, where demonstrators have been protesting police brutality for the last five nights.
Two hundred people were arrested Sunday after clashes in downtown Phoenix between police and civilians. Eighteen buildings were damaged, too. But no arrests were made in Monday’s protest, which ended peacefully shortly the 8 p.m. curfew took effect.
The governor said in the call to mayors that Scottsdale officials claimed they had the situation under control. “The takeaway here is please be like Phoenix, not Scottsdale,” Ducey said.
“It’s disappointing to me,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said of the governor’s criticism. “I thought it was a little less than supportive.”
Lane, who like Ducey is a Republican, said his city’s police department was unfairly criticized for not having officers on the scene, when there were in fact dozens of Scottsdale officers at the mall shortly after people started to gather there.
The Scottsdale Police Department declined a request Tuesday from The Associated Press to comment on Ducey’s criticism.
Previously, Scottsdale police said they had 83 officers at the mall when dozens of people gathered there but were quickly overwhelmed as the crowd size grew to 500. They said other police departments were unable to quickly send officers to help out in Scottsdale, though 160 officers from other agencies eventually provided assistance at the scene.
At a news conference on Sunday, Scottsdale officials said business people have good reason to be disappointed over the thefts and property damage, but said police were able to contain the rioters on or near the mall site and keep them out of neighborhoods.
“I know we failed some people last night,” Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell said on Sunday. “But I once again want to reinforce that no one — no one — got hurt last night.”
Protests have erupted in U.S. cities and Europe in the days after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died last week after the officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
Phoenix’s first protest unfolded after a Thursday vigil for Dion Johnson, a 28-year-old black man who was fatally shot during an encounter with a state trooper along a city freeway.