Protests peaceful after Maricopa County Attorney’s office announced no charges against the officer involved in the killing of Dion Johnson


Jason White

Phoenix Police officers in riot gear

Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

Tuesday marked the second night of protests after the announcement on Monday that Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel will not charge state Department of Public Safety Trooper George Cervantes for his involvement in the killing of Dion Johnson. 

Johnson died on Memorial Day, May 25, the same day George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. 

Their deaths ignited protests in the Phoenix area later that week. 

According to AZ Central, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said at the news conference on Monday that the evidence, in this case, shows “the trooper was attempting to effect a lawful arrest on an impaired driver who was asleep behind the wheel of a car with the key in the ignition while stopped on a busy freeway.” “While this is a tragic outcome, criminal charges against the trooper are not warranted,” Adel said during the press conference.

Downtown Phoenix was closed early in anticipation of protests.  While the gatherings have been relatively smaller than the protests back in May, the message is the same — demanding justice and accountability from the Justice Departments, and demanding equal treatment for people of color.

Protesters gathered at the City Hall building in downtown Phoenix to call for “Justice for Dion”.  Police kept their distance, but when some protesters left to use the bathroom or get something to eat they claimed police followed them as they returned to City Hall building.

From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., while protesters waited for others to arrive, “Justice for Dion” and “No Justice No Peace” were drawn with chalk on the building.  Many demonstrators wore face coverings and dressed in black to secure their identities. 

One who was dressed in black spoke to to give a statement, that even with the risk of being labeled as ANTIFA, they are not part of that group, they dress in black to protect themselves from right-wing extremists who have threatened protestor’s lives, who are allies of Black Lives Matter movement. 

“It’s funny how when ‘patriots’ or just right-wing extremists that come to these, I would get labeled as ANTIFA really quickly by a patriot,” he said, “I don’t carry any weapons on me, only an umbrella, to shield my friends from either right-wing people that come out here to film us cuz we don’t know where their posting that stuff, people have gotten followed home by them, and it’s just scary that we have to do this.” 

After walking and chanting from City Hall, around the block, they arrived at the Phoenix Police Headquarters on Washington street.

Phoenix Police in riot gear met with them outside once the barricade was pushed down by the demonstrators and it was announced as an unlawful assembly immediately thereafter.

No protesters passed the barricade even while it was tipped over on the ground, but three sat down while the others crossed the street to the other side. 

Chanting continued and at 10 p.m. protesters left with a buddy-system because of previous threats of arrest or targeting police have done to protesters.

No looting or rioting occurred.