Fallout continues over traffic stop turned immigration rally - Tucson News Now

Fallout continues over traffic stop turned immigration demonstration

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A press conference Wednesday gave protestors a chance to call for change after Tuesday night's Tucson Police traffic stop that sparked an immigration protest. 

The press conference was at the Southside Presbyterian Church at 317 West 23rd Street.

Protestors want Tucson Police to reconsider its policy in contacting the Border Patrol in incidents like last night's traffic stop.

"Nowhere in SB1070 does it say that TPD must call the Border Patrol," said protestor Raul Alcaraz as he spoke before a standing-room only crowd at Southside Presbyterian Church.  "In fact it states they don't have to investigate people's immigration status if it's not practicable to do and doing so hinders or obstructs their initial investigation."

In cases similar to this, protestors are asking TPD to implement a "cite and release" policy with no prolonged detention and no impounded vehicles.

The initial stop was made at 22nd Street and South 10th Avenue around 7 PM Tuesday, near Santa Rosa Park where more than 100 people took to the streets.

Police say they called in several units and even had to use pepper spray on the group of people, several of which had been shouting, "Not one more."

Sgt. Maria Hawke with Tucson Police said that an officer pulled over a vehicle because it had no license plate light.  The driver and passenger both told police they had no identification or drivers license.  During the conversation, the police officer discovered they were both undocumented immigrants. 

The officer conducted a records check and discovered the driver had never had a driver's license in the U.S. or Arizona. 

SB1070 law then required the police officer to impound the vehicle, arrest the driver and also to call the Border Patrol.  According to reports it was when the Border Patrol arrived that neighbors started to notice. 

In response to Tuesday's incident and the protestors' press conference, TPD Chief Roberto Villasenor held a press conference of his own Wednesday afternoon.  He spoke directly to the implied issue of racial profiling.

"When we train our officers we indicate ethnicity is not to be part of their decision unless it's part of a description of a suspect we're looking for," Villasenor said.  "The officer that stopped them was Hispanic and this was not a race issue.  This was for a traffic stop, a legitimate traffic violation ... and then following the precepts of SB1070."

In Tuesday night's incident, the crowd gathered around the officers and "aggressively advanced toward them," according to TPD.  The Border Patrol detained both the driver and passenger and the vehicle was impounded. 

"The officers did exactly as they're supposed to do," Villasenor said.  "The physical force or pepper spray was in response to the aggressive nature of the crowd.  It wasn't over-exuberance on the part of the officers.  It was because the crowd was very emotional , started to become physical and this was a quick way to stop it from getting any worse."

We're told two others were taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Tucson Fire personnel did treat several people with minor injuries.  Nobody was taken to the hospital.

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