Ducey’s comments came in a wide-ranging news conference that covered protests the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Dion Johnson in Phoenix, the pandemic and economy and wildfires in the state.
Ducey called the death of Floyd “an American tragedy.”
“In Arizona, we’re listening, and we’re looking at this as an American moment where change can happen for the better in our nation,” Ducey said.
Ducey said “a much smaller group” came out to riot and loot have come out to the protests, and he thanked law enforcement, health care professionals and first responders for their work.
“This has been a time where people want to be heard,” he said. “They have seen an injustice. They want to see change, and in Arizona we’ve been able to do it in a safe and peaceful way.”
When asked about removing the curfew early or extending it, Ducey said it will remain where it is for now.
“I want to say thank you to the citizens of Arizona, the peaceful protestors that want to have their voices heard,” Ducey said. “It’s loud, and we can hear what people want to say. It’s also been four consecutive nights of peace and quiet in Arizona. The curfew was put out through next Sunday, so let’s just see where we are.”
Department of Public Safety Director Heston Silbert said an investigation into Johnson’s death is ongoing. Johnson was killed during a traffic stop on Loop 101 in Phoenix on May 25.
Ducey said the curfew has been statewide because of incidents in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Prescott, Prescott Valley and Mohave County. He said the past four nights under the curfew. have been peaceful.
Silbert paid homage to the protesters in the manner with which they have conducted themselves.
“I’m proud of our community, quite frankly,” Silbert said. “There are some people who I would say hijacked the cause and didn’t do honor to the death of George Floyd by looting and rioting. But I will tell you by far and away, everything I have seen from the citizens of Arizona, the manner in which they have protested has been a commentary to their character and really to our state.
“You see people out there, it’s 110 degrees outside, and they’re out there all day in the heat and they’re genuinely protesting. People don’t go stand in the heat by the thousands who don’t care.“
While COVID-19 cases are rising in Arizona, Ducey said that was to be expected and that the testing rates and availability of hospital beds and ventilators allow for the state to continue with its reopening.
“We are not in a crisis standards of care protocol right now,” Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said. “So we continue to monitor. I don’t know that it will be a specific percentage that would trigger that, but it would be looking at the totality of the data.”
In speaking about the viral risks protestors take, Christ noted that the guidance continues to be for group of 10 or fewer to assemble but that people have a Constitutional right to assemble. She urged those at high risk to avoid large gatherings and those who attend to take precautions like frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer.
When pushed about the economy reopening, Ducey said the start is not escalating reopening from its current “phase one.”
“Phase one has not gone too far,” Ducey said. “We’ll continue to monitor what is happening, and what we’re going to do is make sure we have proper capacity to care and comfort people that need it, and today we do.”