Tucson leaders, police work quickly to enforce curfew; vigil rescheduled 1 hour earlier

Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 9:22 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Downtown Tucson was quiet for the first time in days late on Sunday, May 31. It came after Gov. Doug Ducey issued an 8 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew across the state.

Mayor Regina Romero said the city of Tucson was given just hours to prepare and get the message out.

“We didn’t receive a call from Governor Ducey,” Romero said. “I did not, [Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus] did not, we both found out through Twitter.”

In a press conference, Romero called for stronger communication from the Governor’s Office, especially in times of emergency, and promised to work quickly so no one was caught by surprise.

“We are going to try and disperse the information with the information that Chief Magnus shared; that we are only going to direct resources to the areas where we have seen problems,” Romero said.

Already stretched thin on resources, Magnus said responding to calls is a balancing act.

“To have adequate officers throughout the rest of the city to take calls for service, but also to have sufficient officers working this kind of operation,” he said.

At this time, Tucson has not requested help from the National Guard.

Nearly 200 officers patrolled streets overnight on Sunday but were not faced with large protests. One group gathered on Fourth Avenue in the early evening, but scattered once officers told them about the curfew. Violators could face up to six months in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Ducey’s order includes all public property. Magnus clarified businesses can remain open after 8 p.m. and people can still visit those businesses.

“It has to be a purposeful trip; I think is the easiest way to look at it,” Magnus said. “Not just driving around.”

This curfew is affecting peaceful gatherings. A vigil for George Floyd was scheduled for Monday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the Dunbar Pavilion parking lot. Organizers had to quickly make adjustments.

“We will start at 6 p.m. and we can then end at 7:45 p.m.,” said Doris Snowden, the President of the NAACP branch in Tucson. “So, we will shorten it, but it doesn’t matter that it’s shorter – the event is still going to occur. The police chief is working with us so when people leave here, they don’t have to worry about being harassed and stopped.”

Organizers say rioting will not be tolerated. Many worry what’s been going on will distract from the true message.

“We noticed that on Friday night, that wasn’t an act of us; the black community. No black organizations were notified or involved,” said Zion Givens, a co-organizer of the Enough is Enough Vigil.“ [This vigil] is our way of saying, ‘This is our voice. This is how we want to be heard, how we want to be represented; peacefully.’ We really want to emphasize the fact that it’s peaceful, we don’t want riots. That does not solve anything that we want to do so that’s how we are going to gain momentum and keep moving forward and be heard.”

“We are wondering how these injustices are still going on, how people are still losing their lives over nothing?” asked DJ Jahmar, another organizer of the vigil. “It goes past George Floyd, it goes to Eric Garner, Sandra Bland. Mothers are dying, sons are dying, fathers are dying, uncles are dying. We are fed up right now, enough is enough.”

Those who wish to attend Monday’s vigil are asked to wear a mask and bring a candle.

Magnus said the majority of protesters have been peaceful, but Saturday night’s march gave way to a different group overnight. Officers took eight people into custody. No word yet on if they are from the area. KOLD News 13 was told that several officers suffered minor injuries when large rocks were lobbed their way on Saturday. One firefighter, who was hit on his face by a brick, is recovering.

The curfew will remain in place each day from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. until June 8.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.