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Police: 2 arrested for assaulting officer, 1 for inciting riot during Tampa protests

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Three people were arrested by Tampa police during a protest in Downtown Tampa on Thursday.

Tampa police say the protest group marched through the downtown area and turned eastbound on East Scott Street heading towards the I-4 and I-275 on-ramp. A department spokesperson says officers on bicycles attempted to get ahead of the crowd by riding eastbound on the north sidewalk of Scott Street.

According to police, a 17-year-old girl tried to hit officers by “thrusting the metal tip of an umbrella toward the face of a police officer who was on a bicycle.” She then tried to hit a second officer moments later, the police department says. The teen was charged with two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer.

The second arrest was 22-year-old Emadi Okwuosa. A Tampa police report says he used a bullhorn to “incite the group in an attempt to disrupt the flow of traffic on the interstate.” He was charged with inciting a riot.

The news release from the Tampa Police Department says the third person arrested – 21-year-old Stephanie Sanchez – tried to hit officers. She was also charged with two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer.

According to police, the crowd of protesters got agitated at some point and started approaching the officers who were trying to arrest the three people. Despite officers commanding the crowd to back up, police say protesters continued to approach officers in an aggressive manner while objects were also being thrown in the officers’ direction.

Police also say one person in the crowd sprayed a fire extinguisher in the direction of officers.

The TPD spokesperson says officers used a “deterrent spray” to ensure the safety of the police and the people being arrested.

“The officers of the Tampa Police Department will continue working to ensure the safety of all those wishing to protest,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We will not accept any person who attempts to use the protest as an opportunity to engage in criminal activity.”

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