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2 arrested on riot charges after police clash with homeless

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Jun 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-25 19:30:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Four people were jailed and witnesses said police used a Tazer on a teen when officers responded to what Salt Lake Police officials called a near riot Sunday.

Two people were jailed on riot charges, but Randall Freeman, who shot this video of the incident, said it was the culmination of mounting frustrations among some in the homeless community who feel police are continually harassing them.

"It put all of the homeless up in arms about it because of consistent police harassment,” he said.

The exchange began when police issued citations for underage smoking to two juveniles outside of The Road Home, which is a shelter in downtown Salt Lake City.

Eve Reyna said her children were the ones approached by police initially, and she said the officers overreacted.

"The officer said he approached us because we were not in the cross walk, and at that time the cop approaches, threw the bike down, got into my son's face and then took my child down,” she said.

Police officials said shouts and profanity-laced threats came from the crowd, and they said Karley Barrick and Phillip May were particularly aggressive—both were arrested on several charges, including riot. Barrick allegedly threw a water bottle at police officers.

Detective Veronica Montoya, Salt Lake City Police Department, said officers were doing what they are sworn to do.

“That's our job, and if somebody is breaking the law, we will be there to enforce it,” she said.

Reyna said she thinks it’s reasonable for police to ask people to move aside when they are smoking in the street, but she said the incident is one of many times she and others have been targeted by police.

“But the way they came at us is a constant, daily harassment,” she said.

Police said none of their actions amounted to harassment in any form.

Freeman said he hopes the city will learn something from the incident.

"That we have rights,” he said. “We are citizens of this city as well. That we are not out here, at least the majority of us are not out here, trying to sell drugs or do drugs. We're families. We're friends."

Barrick and May remain in the Salt Lake County Jail Tuesday. The two juveniles stopped for underage smoking were booked into a juvenile detention facility, and they have their first court hearing Wednesday.