The Tuscon police chief used Twitter to announce four arrests at a Saturday protest and question the motives of protesters who damage property or retaliate against police.
Chief Chris Magnus said protesters blocked traffic for hours on Saturday night and alleged that a Tucson police officer had been assaulted at the demonstration. KGUN reported that police said a man punched an officer.
Magnus attached photos of graffiti and toppled traffic barricades.
“Is this supposed to help the cause?” he tweeted Sunday morning. “I get it that it’s the minority of protesters who do this but the others seemed to ignore or celebrate this conduct last night.”
The protests in Tucson intensified last month after body-camera videos showed officers restraining Carlos Ingram-Lopez face-down on the ground for 12 minutes before he died in police custody, echoing the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. The Tucson city manager rejected an offer from Magnus to resign amid the public outcry.
In response to Magnus’ question if protesters were helping “the cause,” Black Lives Matter Tucson said it did not lead the protest on Saturday but challenged his claim that protesters had assaulted police.
“Magnus tweeting inflammatory statements about alleged crimes committed against his officers and property is divisive and unhelpful. These are charges not convictions, smearing people before they’ve had their day in court is designed to taint the outcome,” Black Lives Matter Tucson posted on Facebook.
Magnus is perhaps more candid on Twitter than other police officials in Arizona. His counterpart in Phoenix, police Chief Jeri Williams, has lately used the platform to highlight police rescues and wish members of her department a happy Father’s Day. Her last tweet about the protests was from early June when she walked with demonstrators at a march in Phoenix.
“Change is rough, change is tough,” Williams told The Arizona Republic last month. “But I’m not afraid of change. I’m not afraid of the truth. And I’m not afraid of what can come of the protests, the marches, the calls, you name it, I’m not afraid of that at all.”
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Magnus has tweeted before about systemic racism within law enforcement, which many protesters across Arizona have made their rallying cry.
“‘Systemic’ doesn’t mean everyone in policing is or has been racist, but it does mean the overall SYSTEM has had a long history of racism, as has the larger criminal justice system,” Magnus tweeted on Tuesday.
Reach the reporter at Helen.Wieffering@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @helenwieffering.