HARLESTOWN, R.I. -- The chief sachem and seven other members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe were arrested yesterday by State Police in what onlookers described as a violent raid of the tribe's new tax-free tobacco shop.
Governor Donald Carcieri called the raid ''truly regrettable, but clearly necessary'' after tribal leaders said they would cease operations of the smoke shop only if the governor dropped his opposition to a casino the tribe has been trying to build for years.
Carcieri said the troopers entered the reservation under a court-issued search warrant that he ordered be executed.
''We do not take today's actions lightly,'' Carcieri said. ''We deliberated long and hard before authorizing today's response.''
Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas and other tribe members were arrested as police entered the Narragansett Smoke Shop, which opened Saturday. State Police also confiscated the cigarettes that remained on the shelves and took about $900 from the cash register.
Colonel Steven Pare, the superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, said all eight arrested tribe members had been released by last night. Seven were released on personal recognizance, while one tribe member posted bail.
Pare said one person was injured in the melee. But Paulla Dove, a member of the tribe's council, said that between eight and 10 people complained of injuries. Some of them, including her 36-year-old son, Adam Jennings, were taken to the hospital. Dove believed her son may have reinjured an already sore ankle.
A videotape of the raid shows state troopers marching toward the smoke shop and forcibly opening its doors. Several tribe members who resisted were wrestled to the ground and handcuffed.
The video also shows Thomas with his arms wrapped around a state trooper at the top of the shop's front steps, while one tribe member appears to have his hand on the trooper's throat. Shortly afterward, two troopers pull a man down the steps, and then pull Thomas after him.
The tape also shows a police dog nipping at the clothing of a man who is handcuffed and face-down on the ground.
''The Narragansett Indian Tribe did what it's always done -- it stood to protect its land,'' said Thomas, who had a swollen right wrist and bandaged left arm. ''It's unfortunate because it's 2003.''
Pare said State Police officers in plainclothes were inside the store and handed a search warrant to the clerk that ordered the tribe to ''stop the illegal activity.''
The officers were told in the store that the tribe did not intend to acknowledge that order, Pare said, and the troopers then entered the shop.
Attorney General Patrick Lynch said the videotape showed the officers acted with restraint.
A hearing on a motion to issue a temporary restraining order was scheduled for today in Superior Court.
Carcieri said his administration had been meeting with the tribe and had said it would work to stimulate their economy.
''I indicated that I was willing to discuss the possibility of entering into some sort of compact with the tribe, but first they must cease operations'' of the smoke shop, Carcieri said.
''Their demands were totally unacceptable,'' he said. ''They demanded . . . that in turn for closing the smoke shop, that I must drop my opposition to a casino.''