6 People arrested while protesting police brutality

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Six people protesting police brutality were arrested in downtown Phoenix Saturday night.

Police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Howard said they were arrested in the area of First and Washington streets for obstructing roadways and failing to obey officers regarding traffic control.

The six arrested protesters have been identified as Britney Erica Austin, 29, Michael Paul Folk, 24, Antonio Ramos, 23, Nicole Nelson, 19, Alexander Mackenzie Kennedy, 21, and a juvenile. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said Monday that they all have been released from custody.

Howard said the protest was organized through social media, and about 40 to 50 protesters gathered on Van Buren Street between Central and First avenues around 8:30 p.m.

He said the protesters repeatedly walked in roadways against traffic signals and against commands from officers.

Several events were happening downtown at the time, and police say people associated with the group, Wave of Action Phoenix, have a history of becoming increasingly disruptive in crowded environments.

Howard said several members of the group interfered with the arrests and threw flagpoles at officers. They reportedly fled the area when officers discharged pepper balls.

"What they should have done is block traffic," said a protester who concealed his identity. "Make sure that we were out there being able to do whatever we wanted with our First Amendment rights protesting them killing people but instead we saw what the state does. They crack down in the most vicious, brutal way as fast as they can,"

Following the arrests, several members of the group said they would comply with the law for the rest of the evening. No additional incidents were reported.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Police released a statement that said, in part, "The Phoenix Police Department supports and defends peoples' (sic) right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Unfortunately, people within the group chose to engage in criminal acts which became a nuisance and hazard to themselves and other residents and people attending downtown events. After multiple warnings and attempts to obey the law were disregarded, police were forced to make several arrests to ensure the safety and well being of all people in the downtown area."