The people carrying the guns were parading their weaponry through the "other" side crowds. The intention of the police and permitters and such were clearly focused on keeping the opposing factions apart on opposite sides of the street. What I've not seen mentioned is how the person carrying the lynched stuffed animal had hateful notes pinned to the stuffed toy, marched directly into the opposing demonstrators and attempted to instigate confrontation and conflict and were quickly (within 5 minutes) joined by the guys with assault weapons. There were very clear provocateurs who were there at the rally to stir up trouble. I should also mention that the guns that were holstered on legs were within a foot or so of small children, in strollers next to their slightly older toddler siblings who were within grab range of the and at the very same level as the weapons.
Talking to people who are active in progressive politics and demonstrations in the Phoenix area I heard from a couple different individuals that these guys often show up, attempt to intimidate and are close supporters of Joe Arpaio. This association between extremely conservative police factions, the self proclaimed minute men and "freepers" in the Phoenix to U.S. Mexican border area is an area of great concern to me. I wrote about it 3 years ago when I was threatened by a "counter" demonstrator outside a military recruitment office -- this man told me that I was a traitor and would have been hanged to death in other times. The the threat and attempted intimidation was clear... not all of these times were necessarily in the past.
A brave soul has been valiantly continuing to stand, often alone, in an anti-recruitment protest at least that occurs at least one a week for years, before and after, the incidents I witnessed 3 years ago. This woman protester (in her late 70s) has been harassed and threatened by an individual from Tucson gun toting, Freeper thugs who "counter protest" at the recruitment center and had to go back to court a second time, from what I understand ( I need to interview her and others who attended the court hearing to cover this significant story that has had absolutely zero attention from "journalists" in the Tucson area) to keep this thuggish person and his threats and legal harassment away from her. It has taken years to even get the courts to acknowledge that there is targeted personal harassment and intimidation of regular citizens - little old ladies in fact - by thugs within the vigilante border guard/Joe Arpaio's posse/cocaine trafficking military recruiters/"Freeper" network. There is systematic assault and intimidation of the exercise of free speech by progressives in the central and southern Arizona region.
The police in Phoenix seemed far more neutral than the police in Tucson have seemed from my experience. I've been called on to private property by Tucson cops who then proceeded to cite me for trespassing. I've had police show up at my home's door and have them inform my terrified daughter they could arrest me any time they chose. Military - police - vigilante - wacko connections should be investigated.
There are radical right groups in AZ who are dangerous. Assault weapons and provocateurs are a dangerous combination. Perhaps you remember Timothy McVey and his Kingman connections?
I think this is enough for now.