PHOENIX - Police officials in Scottsdale have issued a statement after property was looted and damaged in the city's Fashion Square, calling the event "unprecedented."
Hundreds came to the mall under "the guise of protesting police violence," officials say.
"While some may have indeed come to join what they believed would be a peaceful protest, what occurred was neither peaceful, nor a protest," wrote Scottsdale Police. "It was a riot that saw several dozens of individuals collectively damaging property at and near the mall, breaking into businesses and looting the interiors."
Police say life safety was the top priority and officers were not sent in to clash violently with protesters.
Twelve people were arrested and no injuries to officers were reported.
According to its website, Scottsdale Fashion Square will remain closed.
"In the wake of last night's events, we ask for calm," law enforcement wrote. "We stand together with our citizens who wish to exercise their right to peacefully assemble. But, lawlessness and terror are not protected and will not be tolerated."
One assault was reported and the mall has suffered millions of dollars' worth of damage and theft.
Police say anyone who can be identified as having committed a criminal act there will be arrested.
Governor Doug Ducey said the looting will not be tolerated in a thread on Twitter.
"The looting and violence we saw last night, especially in Scottsdale, simply cannot be tolerated," wrote Ducey. "And it won't be. Destruction of property does not qualify as freedom of expression."
According to Scottsdale Police officials, damages were reported at businesses in the area of Scottsdale Fashion Square, and various roads in the area, including Scottsdale Road, were closed to traffic.
Video taken by SkyFOX show people targeting the Apple Store at Scottsdale Fashion Square, managing to break in. Some of the people who broke into the store were seen throwing out what appears to be merchandise from inside the store.
Others were also seen entering Scottsdale Fashion Square, via another entrance near the Apple Store. Some were also seen running out with what appears to be merchandise from stores inside the shopping center.
TMZ reports that YouTuber Jake Paul was there at the mall when the looting occurred.
The unrest in Scottsdale came amid days of protests across the country and in Phoenix. The protests took place amid growing controversy over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
One of the officers involved in the deadly incident, identified as Derek Chauvin, is being charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The officers involved have also been fired from the police force.
Friday night's unrest in Phoenix, sparked by the death of Floyd as well as a man who was shot and killed by a DPS trooper on May 25, resulted in damages to various Downtown Phoenix buildings.
Earlier on Saturday, Phoenix City officials called on people to protest peacefully.
"I love Phoenix. It's where I was born, it's where I live. And I know that we can all do better and want to peacefully allow demonstrators to share their message without destroying the city we all call home. As a woman of color, I understand, I empathize, I sympathize with the pain the community is involved in and the important call the mayor mentioned for change," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. "But let's not allow that message to overshadow this by criminal activity. The role of the police department is to protect the safety and security of all members of the community. But to be clear, as we defend the right for demonstrators to share their message, we will not tolerate criminal activity."
Cleanup efforts underway
On Sunday, members of the community came together to clean up the damage.
"I've lived here all 23 years of my life, and what I saw [Saturday] was heartbreaking and disgusting," said Mikey Bergs.
"This is my city! My city!" said Maryann McAllen.
"It was really hard listening to it and not being able to do anything about it," said one woman, identified only as Alicia.
The group collected trash and found lots of merchandize scattered on the ground.
"Apple products. Apple Watches, and there's tags and all kinds of jewelry, and we've already given a bunch to police back there," said McAllen.
Returning the products to police is their way of help.
"There' just a lot going on and people expressing frustrations, but I don't think this is the way to do it," said Dwayne Lewis, as he looked at the Apple Store and the damage left behind. "People are angry, and when you're angry, how you articulate yourself can be misguided, and this is misguided"