Arizona Capitol Clash as Senate GOP Say Protesters Tried to Storm Building

Arizona Senate Republicans have said abortion rights protesters tried to enter the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix on Friday evening as legislators were gathered on bills and proceedings were halted while the authorities handled the incident.

The official Twitter account of the Arizona Senate Republicans wrote that "pro-abortion protestors violently tried to enter our building" on Friday night but lawmakers were later able to resume their work.

"Members/staff/visitors evacuated to a secure location. Law enforcement intervened. Protestors dispersed. While the Senate is now secure & safe, unfortunately smoke/tear gas has spread into our chambers," Senate Republicans said.

The protest comes after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn two landmark abortion rights decisions, 1973's Roe v. Wade and 1992' Planned Parenthood v. Casey on a decision released earlier on Friday.

A video shared to Twitter by Brahm Resnick of Arizona's 12 News showed the state senate adjourning due a "security situation." A separate video shared by 12 News' Bianca Buono showed teargas being deployed outside the building.

Buono also shared a statement she attributed to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

"Troopers deployed gas outside the Senate building after protesters attempted to break the glass. The crowd then moved to the Wesley Bolin Plaza where some monuments were vandalized. Gas was deployed again to disburse [sic] the crowd," Arizona DPS said.

Arizona GOP Senator Kelly Townsend tweeted: "We are currently there being held hostage inside the Senate building due to members of the public trying to breach our security. We smell teargas and the children of one of the members are in the office sobbing with fear. I expect a J24 committee to be created immediately."

She later posted an update saying, "Everyone is okay, and we are finishing our work."

Republican state Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita shared a video to Twitter that showed what appeared to be hundreds of protesters gathered outside the building and at least one person banging on the exterior glass with their fist.

Urgenti-Rita shared another video that showed law enforcement officers deploying inside the building with the majority wearing helmets and body armor and carrying nightsticks as they took up positions in front of the windows where protesters had gathered.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bart Graves told CNN on Friday: "Troopers deployed tear gas after a crowd of protesters repeatedly pounded on the glass doors of the State Senate Building."

Democratic state Representative Sarah Liguori tweeted: "While working inside we were interrupted by the sound of bangs and smell of tear gas. Protestors cleared from the Capitol."

A large crowd of protesters had assembled outside the Arizona Capitol building on Friday following the release of the Supreme Court's opinion overturning the two landmark abortion cases.

Some of the protesters held signs saying "Abort SCOTUS" and "Bans off our bodies" while the demonstrators also chanted "My body, my choice."

Protests against the Supreme Court's decision have already been taking place and more are expected across the U.S. this weekend with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Bans Off Our Bodies and Women's March organizing events.

President Joe Biden called on protesters to keep demonstrations "peaceful" on Friday in remarks where he strongly criticized the Court's decision.

"No intimidation. Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech. We must stand against violence in any form regardless of your rationale," Biden said.

Newsweek has reached out to the Arizona Department of Public Safety for comment.

Abortion Protesters Gather in Portland, Oregon
People march across the Hawthorne Bridge to protest the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. Arizona Republicans say abortion rights protesters tried to enter the state Capitol in Phoenix on Friday. Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images