Phoenix police release final report for August anti-Trump protest

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A rally for President Donald Trump prompted protests and erupted into a night of controversial clashes with Phoenix police last summer.

The Phoenix Police Department made national news for how it handled anti-Trump demonstrators after the big rally downtown.

[RELATED: Phoenix PD releases hundreds of videos from Trump protest]

On Monday, Phoenix police released its report on how the event was handled. 

The protest took place near the Phoenix Convention Center in August of 2017. Most of the protesters were peaceful and followed the rules, but a handful were not.  All of them were sent running when police decided it was time to shut it down. 

[ORIGINAL STORY: 4 arrested, 2 officers suffer heat exhaustion after protest turns unruly outside Trump rally]

While cameras caught the moment police instructed people to leave, many protesters said they weren't able to hear the orders or see the police line forming. Tear gas, they say, was their first indication.

[SLIDESHOW: Police deploy tear gas at Trump protesters]

"We were right there, one of our organizers actually was hit by one of the rubber bullets or whatever they're calling them,” said Viri Hernandez, of the Center for Neighborhood Leadership. 

Phoenix Chief of Police Jeri Williams released a report finalizing a nearly five-month-long investigation into the department's response that night. However, Hernandez said she isn't satisfied with the new report.

"For me what happened on Aug. 22 is another symptom of how this police department works. There is a culture of violence within the police department within the City of Phoenix," she said. 

[RELATED: Photos and videos from that night]

Williams spoke to us Monday night about the report release.

"I know my employees were professional, and they were decisive, and they were concentrating and focusing on that one area amidst a crowd of thousands who are appropriately exercising their right of free speech," Williams said. 

She also said the department does plan to focus on one area for future events.

[RELATED: Phoenix PD release more details on protests, arrests outside Trump's rally in Phoenix]

"Any law enforcement professional will tell you that there's always something we can improve on, and that is our communication piece. Getting better at communicating by old-school bullhorn, or communicating by vehicles, or by our air unit as well as using social media platforms and live streaming," Williams said.

In response to the department’s report, ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Kathy Brody issued this statement: 

“The Phoenix Police Department did not protect the First Amendment rights of protesters and caused many people to go home with cuts, bruises, and other injuries. There are many videos of officers attacking protesters with pepper spray and projectiles at dangerously close range. It is shocking and disheartening that the department determined this excessive use of force was justified."

Williams said that she used nearly 1,000 police employees that night, the same as for the Super Bowl. But for the Super Bowl, she said, the department has 18 months to prepare, compared to just six days for the president's August visit. 

You can read the entire after-action report from Phoenix police below:

[APP/MOBILE USERS: Click here to view City's after-action report]

[APP/MOBILE USERS: Click here to view police department's after-action report]

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