PHOENIX - Among the people who took part in a march Friday afternoon in Downtown Phoenix was the chief of the Phoenix Police Department, Jeri Williams.
“I’m walking because they asked me to walk," said Chief Williams. "They’ve been able to garner peace for four days. They’re honest, they’re real, they’re genuine, they want change."
In Phoenix, Friday marked the ninth day of protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Dion Johnson. Floyd's death, which took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was followed by protests across the country, as well as instances of violence and looting.
“We can’t do this alone. We’ve got to do this together," said Chief Williams. "If walking out in 106°F with y’all means we’re gonna work together, we’re gonna work together," said Chief Williams.
Chief Williams' participation in the march marked a seismic shift from a week ago, when similar protests led to clashes with police officers in front of the Phoenix Police Department headquarters. Instances of vandalism and looting in Phoenix and Scottsdale led to Governor Doug Ducey issuing a statewide, 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew that is scheduled to expire on June 8.
Since the curfew was instituted, no arrests have been made in the Valley as a result of unrest.
"What happens is we’re gonna work together, look at policies, work together make change," said Chief Williams. "We’re gonna work together on the killings. We’re going to work together, but I need you guys to give us some time."
People handing out water, essentials along march route
During the protests, plenty of helpers have been trying to make the day a bit more tolerable for those taking part.
"It’s the least we can do," said Marques Bayne.
Bayne and his family are just one of dozens posting up water stations. The stations are set up alongside the marches that have seen thousands of people flood Phoenix streets
"It’s to support the movement here," said Bayne. "It’s a peaceful protest. They’re demonstrating peacefully. They’re trying to bring equality for all, and we want to support those who are trying to support us and make the world a better place."
Mike Romero also brought his cooler. He says he’s used to going door to door for causes in the Arizona heat.
"I’m used to door-knocking, and it’s a pain but it’s worth it," said Romero. "The heat - we can stand up against the heat when we fight for what’s right."
Others were handing out snacks, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer. There was also a trash pick-up and recycling effort.
"Just want to support the community," said Romero. "It’s an issue that’s been going on for too long, hundreds and hundreds of times. The black community has supported the Hispanic community plenty of times, and we all just need to come together."