Protest or Nonsense? Review or Politics?

President Donald Trump visited the City of Phoenix on August 22nd. With him, came the fierce debates and protests that typically accompany his presence. To say the least, it was long, tense, day in our City – for those who came to cheer the President, those who came to oppose him, for our City’s leaders, and for my colleagues in the Phoenix Police Department.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured that night. No property damage occurred. And the Phoenix Police Department, though pushed to the limit, made only four arrests.

For hours, thousands of people packed into downtown Phoenix and exercised their First Amendment right to the free speech. In the end, everyone made it home safely. We – the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department – did everything possible to make that happen. We acted strategically, lawfully, and with respect for all. We did our jobs at the highest level possible.

These facts seem to have been lost in the furor ever since.

At the end of that night, in its final hour, a radical few decided to hijack a peaceful assembly and turn it to chaos. This misguided few decided to steer the evening by provoking a police response and ruining the day. I am not talking about the protesters who held signs, yelled, chanted and marched. I am talking about the misguided few whose criminal actions made it necessary to disperse the crowd. Throwing rocks, gas grenades, frozen water bottles, and even a makeshift spear – these illegal actions endangered everyone, including their fellow protesters, rallygoers, the media and the police.

The men and women of the Phoenix Police needed to fill their sworn duty as peacemakers by preventing further and increased violence while minimizing the risk of injury. No officer enjoys being in an environment that has been filled with gas, yet, when necessary, we deploy it – just as we willingly place ourselves between civilians and danger, if that is most effective method of controlling a crowd.

That night and ever since, the Phoenix Police Department has been praised on social media, local and national news outlets, and by our own city leadership.  Recently, I was advised by the department that, nearly one week later, our department’s internal affairs division (PSB) has received no complaints and a “plethora” of compliments and accolades.


Unfortunately, the misguided few have continued to drown out the reasonable many, even in the wake of such praise. It is no secret that a small fraction of our community simply hate the Phoenix Police Department. Every big city has such cop haters. Fortunately, not every city hands them a bullhorn to criticize police at their top of their lungs, drowning out all reasonable debate and the majority who support the police.

This week, in the face of relentless anti-cop screaming, city leadership and some members of our Phoenix City Council voiced support for spending tens of thousands of dollars to seek “independent review” of the night of August 22nd. The idea: Hire a group of out-of-town civil rights lawyer who specialize in critiquing cops, and allow them to spend 90 days putting the just actions under a microscope one hour of a single night.

To say this is a bad idea may be something we have never seen in this new era of Twitter rants is an understatement.

Thank you, Councilman Sal Diciccio for having the courage to stand out against this! Personally, I would rather see this money spent of the shields needed to block a frozen water bottle or defibrillators that could be used to save a life. The police officers who formed a skirmish line are still waiting for the last bit of pay cuts to be restored. The money could be used for that.  Or any one of a thousand other true priorities, instead of reviewing an incident that ended without a single injury and was over and done with no complaints filed against Phoenix Police officers.

Ironically, before the Council could vote at a public meeting, the same anti-cop screamers they were trying to assuage showed up and did what they do – they hijacked legitimate city business to scream their own agenda.

This vocal few took over the meeting from Mayor Stanton and caused disruption that went way beyond their First Amendment rights. There in the crowd were residents who genuinely wanted to see our elected leaders do legitimate public business.  Their right to do so was taken from them by the malcontents. One and all had a right to be heard that day – a right I never want to be taken away from anyone. Instead, that meeting descended into a screaming match where only side got to make their points.

In the wake of that meeting and the political response to the night of August 22nd, I find myself disappointed by our City. Disappointed that our leaders believed it wise to spend tax dollars on a needless review. And disappointed that the only voices they have allowed to weigh belong to a screaming few who seem bent on destroying the city and the police department I love.

Good Job, Phoenix PD, your professionalism and willingness to risk personal safety to protect one and all is to be commended!

Thank you, Councilman DiCiccio for standing up on behalf of the good citizens.

I respect you, peaceful demonstrators, at every demonstration, and I will fight for your right to do so, whether I agree or not.

That is the job I hold and that is the oath I took. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And for those who widh to stand in the way of a peaceful protest, I am glad the Phoenix Police Department will always be there to stand in the way of your criminal acts.



Sean Mattson, President

The Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association

Serving those who serve the public