KINGMAN — Protesters knelt in prayer to close a 12-hour demonstration Tuesday in Kingman, an event held under the watchful eyes of Arizona National Guardsmen and personnel from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Kingman Police Department.
No major incidents were reported, although one person was arrested on suspicion of pointing a weapon at protesters as he drove by Locomotive Park in downtown Kingman. Kingman Police Lt. Joel Freed said the man drove by and pointed what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle out the driver’s side window. Freed said five protesters witnessed the threat and summoned police, who stopped the vehicle about a quarter-mile from the site. A man, who was not identified, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault.
“We knew that we were going to get hate. Everybody gets hate for fighting for what they believe in,” said organizer Shai Weaver, an 18-year-old from Kingman. “We had posted that if there were anti-protesters here, they have every right to a civil, peaceful protest as we do. But we would like to shout down all the rumors of us being affiliated with any radical groups.
“Our movement here is titled ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but we are not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter organization. Naysha (Powell) and I are locals. I grew up in this town and went to high school here. I represented this city in New York City with a Broadway internship that I had when I was 16 so, no, we are not here to cause violence. We are not here to loot and we are not here to riot.”
People milled in and out of the park, some there to join the line that waved placards and chanted in a peaceful protest and others there to watch the event to record it for their personal history.
Arizona National Guard troops, who arrived in Kingman by helicopter earlier in the day, joined more than a dozen officers and detectives, watching the demonstration from a distance. Also watching were armed members of the Arizona Patriots. The National Guard was there at the invitation of Kingman Police Chief Rusty Cooper. Freed said the Guard troops were there to support local officers to ensure peace and to promote public safety.
About 900 Guardsmen have been activated statewide; spokesman Maj. Aaron Thacker said he could not comment on the number of troops sent to Kingman.
Thacker said their first mission and priority is to ensure peaceful assembly and free speech and engage disruption or threat of those Constitutional rights if necessary. He said local officers will handle any incidents and that Guard members were there to free them up to handle whatever arises.
The protestors broke up around 7 p.m. — well before the statewide 8 p.m. curfew imposed by Gov. Doug Ducey. Weaver earlier had said that demonstrations are planned Friday and Saturday in Kingman. It wasn’t known whether the National Guard will be in attendance at either of those events.