- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2017

A rally in Tucson against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies quickly escalated and led to a clash between police and protesters, resulting in three officers being injured and pepper spray used to disperse the crowd.

Police say the officers sustained minor injuries and two women and one man were arrested on felony charges of suspicion of aggravated assault on a peace officer after Thursday night’s protest. Another woman was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of obstruction and failure to provide identification.

About 80 people participated in the protest that began peacefully in downtown Tucson. Police said the protest intensified when some people started marching into a street around 6 p.m. and officers tried to move them back onto the sidewalk.

“This was when people were leaving from work and there was traffic on the street,” Tucson Police Sgt. Pete Dugan said. “It becomes a danger to the drivers and to the protesters.”

Officers blocked the street with a police car in an attempt to stop the marchers. Police say someone hit an officer in the back, prompting them to try to take that person into custody while demonstrators started surrounding and moving closer. Dugan said once the suspect was inside the car, protesters locked arms in front of vehicle.

The officers began arresting people and using pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Protester Rolande Baker said Tucson police are generally cordial with demonstrators but Thursday’s rally was different.

“I think the police absolutely overreacted,” Baker said. “There was no police that got kicked or hit that I could see. Nobody attacked those police.”

Baker said an officer pepper sprayed her as she knelt down to help an elderly woman up off the ground. Baker described the police as being overly forceful as they separated protesters interlocking arms in front of the police car.

The demonstration was organized by immigration rights action committee Lucha Unida de Padres y Estudiantes over recent raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers around the country. It also coincided with a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants in which people stayed home from work and school and closed their businesses to demonstrate how important they are to the U.S. economy.

Those arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault were 24-year-old David Leon, 68-year-old Joan Cichon, and 42-year-old Tanya Alvarez-Blancarte. Najima Rainey, 39, was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor charges. All four were booked into Pima County jail.

Investigators from the Office of Professional Standards are reviewing the incident after protesters complained about officers’ actions.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that police say two women and one man were arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault, not three men.

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