Arizona Senate Republicans claim cops stopped an INSURRECTION at state capitol by firing tear gas at protesters furious at Roe v Wade ruling when they tried to storm the building and ‘defaced memorials’
- In a statement, Arizona Republicans said that ‘violent pro-abortion protesters’ were attempting an ‘insurrection’ during a protest in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade
- Arizona riot cops unleashed tear gas on protesters around 8:30 pm, less than an hour later, the crowd had dispersed
- Some protesters said that police did not warn the crowd that they were planning to deploy tear gas
- Arizona Democrats defended the protesters, saying that the crowd was largely peaceful
Riot police deployed tear gas as protesters banged on doors and windows during the demonstration. Despite the apparent seriousness of the protest, no arrests were made.
According to a statement from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, there were around 8,000 people present at the protest in the hours after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, stripping abortion rights from millions in the process.
Arizona is one of eight states where abortion clinics stopped performing procedures after the decision was released Friday.
The police accused the protesters of defacing state memorials on the capitol grounds, known as Wesley Bolin Plaza.
It came as millions of people across the country took to the streets to protest the decision with most of the rallies remaining peaceful.
Police deploy tear gas against women at the Arizona Capitol as pro-choice protesters rally against the overturning of Roe V Wade
Arizona is one of eight states where abortion clinics stopped performing procedures after the decision was released Friday
In a press release, the Arizona Senate Republicans said ‘violent pro-abortion protesters attempts of an insurrection’ were thwarted ‘thanks to the swift action from local and state law enforcement.
The Arizona GOP said local law enforcement called for backup and dispersed the crowd before they could breach the capitol building.
The statement refers to the whole situation as ‘terrifying’ and said that senators and staff had to evacuate to a secure location. The lawmakers were working to complete their 2022 session when the protest occurred.
Despite the crowd being dispersed, senators were still unable to complete their work as some of the tear gas was sucked into the senate chambers’ making the air quality unhealthy.
Senate President Karen Fann said in a statement: ‘We are incredibly thankful for our local law enforcement who quickly intervened during that could have been a destructive and dangerous situation for our members, staff and public inside the senate.’
Fann continued: ‘Violence is never the answer, and we will not camouflage what was a blatant attempt at an insurrection as a ‘rally’ or ‘peaceful protest.’ We are calling on lawmakers to condemn these acts. There is a way to make your voice heard and violence is never the answer.’
Officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building
Riot police surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona Sentate building
KPHO-TV reported the officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building
Abortion rights protesters banged on the walls of the capitol building in Arizona while holding signs
The APDS statement described the protest as being peaceful but ‘evolved into anarchical and criminal actions by masses of splinter groups.’
Authorities accused the crowd of attempting to breach the building in a manner similar to the events of January 6, 2021.
As a result of these actions, police were reduced to deploying tear gas and field force teams around 8:30 pm. The scene was clear by 9:30 pm.
The statement reads: ‘Troopers exercised patience and application of tactics in Wesley Bolin Plaza as some people unwisely brought children to the protest turned unlawful assembly.
‘After multiple warnings, and notifications of trespass and unlawful assembly, state troopers deployed gas and strategically moved to clear the plaza.
‘After the plaza was cleared, additional state buildings in the area sustained criminal damage.’ Protesters told AZ Central that they were not warned before the tear gas was used.
Among the memorials that were damaged were the capitol’s Korean War Memorial, the Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Memorial and the Arizona Peace Officers Memorial.
Republican State Senator Kelly Townsend posted photos of the defaced memorials following the protest. She wrote: ‘I wish I could describe the deep anger, but I will just say that it is one of those things you set aside and move forward because we are winning.’
During the standoff, Townsend tweeted: ‘We are currently there being held hostage inside the Senate building due to members of the public trying to breach our security.’
Townsend continued: ‘We smell teargas and the children of one of the members are in the office sobbing with fear. I expect a J24 committee to be created immediately.’
Townsend’s colleague Senator Warren Peterson tweeted during the protest saying that he felt safe as he was with three other senators who were armed.
Video taken from inside the Senate lobby by Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita showed the scene. Another she took moments later showed state police in riot gear forming a line inside the building, facing protesters on the other side of the glass.
She said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday morning that the protesters were clearly trying to enter the locked building.
‘They were aggressively banging on the windows in a way that at any moment it could break,’ Ugenti-Rita said. ‘This wasn´t a knock on a window. I mean, they were trying to break the windows.’
A protester shouted in front of the United States Supreme Court on Saturday, after the conservative majority voted to overturn the landmark decision that guaranteed abortion rights across the country
The protests continued for a second straight day outside the Supreme Court on Saturday
Friday’s ruling struck down over 50 years of a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion – and leaves abortion rights up to the states
Hundreds of protesters could been seen in her videos milling about the plaza between the House and Senate buildings, while about a hundred were closer, near the glass wall at the front of the Senate building.
‘There was no other conclusion than they were interested in being violent,’ she added. ‘I have no other takeaway than that. I´ve seen many protests over my years, in many different sizes and forms. I´ve never seen that ever.’
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Senator Lupe Contreras told AZ Central that he was in the building with his wife and kids when the protest occurred. Contreras said that he was ‘scared to all hell’ for them.
He added: ‘What I had to endure today wasn’t cool.’ Democratic state Rep. Athena Salman of Tempe, however, said those gassed were peaceful.
‘A bunch of House and Senate Democrats voted to give these cops a huge pay raise,’ said said on Twitter in a post showing police firing tear gas. ‘Some even called it historic. Remember that every time the cops gas peaceful protesters.’
Salman said in an interview Saturday that police in Arizona have a long history of using unneeded force against people exercising the First Amendment rights to protest and then blaming them for causing the trouble. She pointed to Black Lives Matter and immigrant justice protests, and said she’s not surprised to see it at an abortion rights protest.
‘Anything related to human rights they’re ultimately going to gas the crowd and then come up with cover stories justifying this excessive use of force,’ Salman said.
State Senate Democrats issued a statement Saturday saying the vast majority of protesters were peaceful while noting that a small number tried to enter the building.
‘We unequivocally condemn violence in all forms, and anxiously await the investigation results to explain the response of law enforcement,’ the statement said.
They also criticized ‘right-wing media and lawmakers’ who called it an ‘insurrection attempt,’ and said they were ‘weaponizing this moment to deflect from the actions of January 6th.’
Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey insists a bill he previously passed, banning abortions after 15 weeks, still stands. But Ducey’s assertion can only be settled in the state’s courts – and some hardline Republicans are already suggesting the original ban on all terminations should remain in place.
The incident sent Senate lawmakers into the basement of the building for about 20 minutes, said Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada. Stinging tear gas wafted through the Capitol afterward, forcing the Senate to move its proceedings to a hearing room instead of the Senate chamber.
The protest comes as Arizona’s Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, are under investigation by the feds of allegations that she sent fake certificates to the national archives in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, according to CNN.
The certificates incorrectly said that ex-President Donald Trump won the Grand Canyon State.
Earlier this week, Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers told the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riot that he would still vote for Trump despite the fact Trump asked him to overturn the state’s election results in 2020.