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Pawtucket police use pepper spray on Tolman protesters

Pawtucket police said Thursday that an officer used pepper spray on a group of people protesting the arrests of two people at Tolman High School the day before.

Many students told NBC 10 News they didn't attend classes on Thursday. Others exited the school after a fire alarm was pulled and refused to go back inside.

Police said they arrested eight young people and two adults outside City Hall.

"This all happened because of police brutality," one student said.

The protest stemmed from the arrests of two juveniles at Tolman High School at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, which was recorded on a cell phone and posted on social media.

Police said the trouble began when the school resource officer arrested a 14-year-old boy who was shouting obscenities and threatening to fight another student.

The boy's older brother, said police, tried to interfere with the resource officer and pushed him.

Authorities noted that at that point, the two boys attacked the resource officer, one of them striking him in the face.

Police said the officer got the older boy to the ground and used a takedown maneuver on the younger one.

"Police slammed a 15-year-old freshman at Tolman," the student said. "I was pretty depressed about it because that's my friend. Like, I'm really close to him actually and just to see that it, like, hurt my heart."

A large group of students formed outside the resource officer's office during the scuffle while teachers and custodians tried to keep them under control.

Police said a small delegation of students was invited to City Hall on Thursday to discuss the incident. Some of them sat down with Mayor ccc to talk.

But then police said about 200 students joined in a protest outside that became unruly. The window of a car was smashed, and police said some of the protesters began spitting at and threatening officers.

Yet, students are telling a different story.

"We were just trying to have a peaceful protest," another student said. "The officer was taking advantage of somebody smaller than him because we have rights and we're putting them to use."


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