Tucson police released the names Friday of three people arrested on suspicion of felonies at a downtown protest over federal immigration policies.
The three face felony charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, said Sgt. Pete Dugan, a police spokesman. They are David Leon, 24; Joan Cichon, 68; and Tanya Alvarez-Blancarte. 42.
A fourth suspect faces misdemeanor charges of obstructing and failure to identify.
The protest Thursday evening escalated into clashes between demonstrators and police. Three officers sustained minor injuries; no one was taken to a hospital, Dugan said.
One officer was hit in the face and another in the back, Dugan said. He wasn’t sure how the third was injured.
Dugan said the police office of professional standards will investigate, after protesters complained about officers’ actions.
Tucson Police Lt. Jennifer Turner said the protest began at 4:30 p.m., in front of the federal building on West Congress Street at Granada Avenue, and by 6 p.m., included about 80 people. At that point, an officer issued an emergency call for assistance, she said.
Dugan gave this account:
The protest was peaceful until many started to enter the roadway, disrupting traffic on Congress. An officer was struck from behind and when officers tried to take a suspect into custody, members of the crowd surrounded the officers, moving closer. Some protesters locked arms and got in front of a police vehicle. Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
“Unfortunately for those trying to peacefully protest,” police had to step in when officers were assaulted and the investigation was obstructed, Dugan said.
Protesters, who said they were demonstrating against ICE raids that began last week, disputed police accounts of the protest.
A protest organizer, Stteffanny Cott, said police overreacted to a peaceful demonstration. Cott is an organizer with Lucha Unida de Padres y Estudiantes (United Struggle of Parents and Students), which is an immigrants rights action committee.
“This was provocation on the side of the police,” Cott said, saying a police SUV blocked the route protesters intended to use between the federal building and their Armory Park destination.
She said marchers were going around the police vehicle, and that the officer was revving the engine and the SUV nudged a Brown Beret demonstrator, Leon, who was then detained on suspicion of assault on a peace officer.