Phoenix: Police Protests Cost $5.3 Million in Overtime, Damages

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 7:55am
Updated: Monday, March 22, 2021 - 12:40pm

The crowd of demonstrators marches down 6th Avenue in Phoenix.
Scott Bourque/KJZZ
The crowd of demonstrators marches down Sixth Avenue in Phoenix during a demonstration against police violence May 31, 2020.

What appeared to be a routine agenda item turned into a lengthy debate and some name calling during Wednesday’s Phoenix City Council meeting.

Agenda item 30 seemed like a simple request — staff asked permission to apply for a state grant to help cover riot related expenses. The word "riot" angered some people who called in during public comment, people who support Black Lives Matter protests and demands to defund police. 

“It relates to the executive order from the governor,” said City Manager Ed Zuercher in explaining the use of the word riot in the council agenda report.

On May 31, 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statewide declaration of emergency that included a curfew that ran from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through the morning of June 8.

Last summer, Zuercher said Phoenix had to pay slightly more than $5 million for police overtime and nearly $244,000 for fire overtime. More than $80,000 was spent on materials and labor to install protective boarding, replace smashed windows, remove graffiti.

Phoenix George Floyd Protest
Garrett Otto
Protesters in Phoenix demonstrate against the killing of George Floyd on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

“You know what? We don’t trust you,” a caller said. “We want to see receipts.”

Another caller wanted any reimbursement to support treatment for drug addiction, not police. Several called for defunding the police and investing in the community. Most callers identified as white and said they had benefited from white privilege.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio said Phoenix was at a crossroads: "We’re either going to support these whack jobs that came in here, these racist whack jobs or we’re going to support our men and women in blue that have done nothing but protect us and do everything right."

By an 8-1 vote (Councilmember Carlos Garcia voted against), the council approved submitting an application for reimbursement with the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Public Assistance for Disaster Recovery grant funding.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The city provided additional information to KJZZ after this story was first published. This version contains updated costs.

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