Protest in Phoenix against deadly police shootings

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Protesters marched through downtown Phoenix on Saturday demanding investigations of recent deadly police shootings.

The protesters held signs asking for justice. Many of the posters pictured Ferguson's Mike Brown, New York City's Eric Garner and Phoenix resident Rumain Brisbon. All were black men killed by police.

Civil rights activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin organized the protest. Maupin and other clergy led protesters on the march that started at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza in front of Phoenix City Hall.

The march proceeded to Phoenix Police headquarters, the office of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the Phoenix office of the U.S. Attorney and Department of Justice and other government buildings.

Organizers want federal authorities to investigate the police shootings and plan to lobby members of Congress to hold fact-finding hearings on alleged police abuses.

Their voices echoed through the streets and ricocheted off government buildings, the very structures where they hope change occurs.

"The only way things have changed in our history is standing up and saying this is not right we need change we need equality we want better things for our children," said demonstrator Alexis Aguirre.

She joined hundreds of demonstrators as they peacefully joined families of police violence victims.

"We want justice, we want these officers fired, indicted, convicted we want them behind bars that's what we want and we're not going to stop until we get it," said Rev. Maupin.

"We wouldn't be in this place right now and people wouldn't be taking such extreme measures if they weren't pushed into a corner, " Aguirre said.

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Police brutality protesters rally at Mall of America

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) -- A mass of demonstrators chanting, "Black lives matter," converged in the Mall of America rotunda Saturday as part of a protest against police brutality that caused part of the mall to shut down on a busy day for holiday shopping.

The group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis had more than 3,000 people confirm on Facebook that they would attend. Official crowd estimates weren't immediately available, but pictures posted to social media by local news organizations showed the rotunda was full. Organizer Mica Grimm estimated about 3,000 people participated.

The rally is part of protests happening nationwide after officers weren't charged in the deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.

During the rally, protesters shouted "While you're on your shopping spree, black people cannot breathe" - a reference to the chokehold police placed on Eric Garner, who died in New York. As they were dispersing, they walked down the hall with their arms raised, shouting "Hands up, don't shoot!" That saying has been used in Ferguson, Missouri, in protests against the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and in demonstrations elsewhere.

Bloomington police said 25 people were arrested, mainly for reasons such as trespassing. Commander Mark Stehlik said he was not aware of any injuries or property damage.

Mall representatives had warned protesters in advance that they could be removed, arrested and banned. The mall's management issued a statement Saturday saying it was "extremely disappointed" that protest organizers ignored the policy banning political protests.

"It's clear from their actions that these political activists were more concerned about making a political statement and creating a media event than they were about the safety of others, who came to Mall of America for an afternoon of shopping and family entertainment," the statement said.

About 30 minutes after the planned protest began, a final warning to disperse was given, and police in riot gear began clearing the rotunda, the Star Tribune reported. A large group of protesters began leaving the mall, but others migrated to a shopping area and occupied two levels. A small "die-in" was staged in front of several stores.

About an hour later, organizers sent out a group text message advising those who were still inside to exit. Live video from KSTP-TV showed police in riot gear marching through the mall's skyway, ushering protesters outside.

The Mall of America had increased security, and certain parts of the mall were closed for some time. Signs were posted at some entrances advising shoppers that the east side of the mall was on lockdown. The mall's statement said the east side was shut down for the safety of shoppers and retailers while police were clearing the mall. All stores had reopened by Saturday evening.

"While we respect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, those rights do not trump our right as private property owners to prohibit that behavior on our property," the mall said Saturday.

Grimm told the AP that organizers believed the protest was a success.

"Our goal is to bring more attention to these issues - and what just happened, nobody can ignore," she said.

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