Several members of a community group arrested during a protest march Saturday are angry, saying Pasco police targeted them and violated their rights.
Pasco police say their accusations aren’t true.
Members of Tri-Cities Community Solutions, a group formed after the shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes by three Pasco police officers in February, called a press conference Monday to discuss the arrests.
Group organizer Jeremy Peterson had a stern message for Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger after Peterson claims his fellow activists were singled out.
“We are not going away, Chief Metzger,” Peterson said as he read from a prepared statement. “We are getting stronger and still calling for your resignation along with murder charges for the three officers that shot Antonio Zambrano-Montes.”
Four people were arrested after they refused to get out of the street. Three group members – Eddie Enriquez, Juan Bolanos and Cierre Trenidad — were booked into the Franklin County jail and cited for disorderly conduct.
A fourth man, Josue Omar Curiel Sanchez, 19, of Toppenish, also was arrested as protesters marched on Court Street. Police say they found a small amount of cocaine on Sanchez, who reportedly told officers he was a gang member.
Tri-City Community Solutions officials made a point during the press conference to separate themselves from Sanchez, saying he wasn’t welcome at any more protests.
Police responded to the group’s accusations, saying they are simply untrue.
“We don’t target any individual. Period,” said Capt. Ken Roske, police spokesman. “If they commit a crime, they can expect to be arrested.”
The protesters were arrested for impeding traffic and putting motorists and others at risk, police said. The arrests came as the group turned onto 10th Avenue after police blocked off Court Street with patrol cars.
Police officers warned the group several times they would be arrested if they didn’t move out of the street.
Police got complaints about the activists following a “die-in” event Friday night at 10th Avenue and Lewis Street, which blocked the intersection and caused traffic problems. Metzger told the Herald on Saturday the arrests were necessary to protect public safety.
“Your ability to express your First Amendment right kind of goes out the window when you start endangering other people,” Roske said.
Bolanos showed up to the press conference Monday wearing a sling. He said his wrist and shoulder were injured when police cuffed him.
Police were not aware of any injury Bolanos sustained during the arrest and there was no indication he needed medical treatment, Roske said.
Roske warned the protesters that police will make arrests if traffic is blocked during a march scheduled for today.
Enriquez, who was bailed out hours after his arrest, says being put in handcuffs came as a shock, but he will continue to march to keep up awareness about the shooting.
“I didn’t expect it. Not the way the came up to us. Not the way they corralled us. Not that way,” he told the Herald. “I figured we would be arrested during one of the bigger demonstrations.”
Today’s march is scheduled to start at John Dam Plaza in Richland at 8 a.m. and end with a rally in Pasco at 3 p.m. The group plans to cover about 14 miles.
Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot several times during a confrontation Feb. 10 with three officers. Police say he threw at least one rock at the officers, who then shot at him 17 times. Zambrano-Montes was not carrying a gun or knife, though a rock was found near his body.
The Tri-City Special Investigations Unit is investigating the shooting and will be reviewed by Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant to determine if it was justified.