MIAMI, JULY 5 -- Police in riot gear arrested about 50 people at a demonstration by Haitian Americans today at a shopping center where a Haitian immigrant was allegedly beaten by Hispanic employees last week.

The incident occurred at the Biscayne Plaza Shopping Center when police began trying to disperse the crowd, which swelled from about 50 to 100 demonstrators, said officer George Law. About 160 officers in riot gear were called to the scene north of downtown, he said.

"We told them to disperse and they failed to, so we moved in," said police spokesman Roberto Navarro. "A community can't hold someone hostage like that."

Four of those arrested were hospitalized in stable condition with facial cuts, scrapes and bruises, a hospital spokesman said.

The rest of those arrested were taken to the Dade County Jail on charges including assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failure to disperse.

The protests began June 29 after a dispute between the Hispanic owner of a factory outlet store and a Haitian-American customer. The customer, Abner Alezi, and several others were later arrested for trespassing.

Store owner Luis Reyes tried to open the store on Saturday but more than 1,000 Haitian Americans turned out in a peaceful protest. The store remained closed until today.