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Published: Monday, 3/31/2014

Protesters clash with police in Albuquerque

Hourslong march against recent police shootings turns violent

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Riot police launch tear gas toward activists in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. following a 10-hour protest around the city, Sunday. Riot police launch tear gas toward activists in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. following a 10-hour protest around the city, Sunday.
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hundreds of protesters angry over recent Albuquerque police shootings clashed with riot officers for more than 10 hours, calling on the police chief and other city officials to resign.

Gas canisters were thrown outside police headquarters and at one point protesters trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break its windows. Mayor Richard Berry said Sunday that one officer was injured during the protest.

Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies charging at the protesters late Sunday mostly dispersed the crowds.

Video by KRQE-TV showed people being led away in zip-tie restraints, but it’s unclear if those people were arrested or if any protesters were injured. Multiple messages left with police weren’t immediately returned.

“We respected their rights to protest, obviously,” Berry said, “but what it appears we have at this time is individuals who weren’t connected necessarily with the original protest. They’ve taken it far beyond a normal protest.”

Protesters took to the streets in the early afternoon and stayed out late Sunday after authorities declared an unlawful assembly. The outrage bubbled over because of Albuquerque police’s involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal since 2010. Critics say that’s far too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000.

The protesters repeatedly marched the 2 miles from downtown Albuquerque to the University of New Mexico, snarling traffic.

Justin Elder, 24, followed the protest as a passenger in a car and held a sign that read, “APD: Dressed To Kill.”

“That’s what this police force is about,” Elder said.

Albuquerque police face off with protesters Sunday in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. during a protest against recent police shootings. Albuquerque police face off with protesters Sunday in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. during a protest against recent police shootings.
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Albuquerque police in riot gear and New Mexico State Police followed the marchers, and protesters shouted epithets at officers. At one point, a protester climbed a tall street sign on the city’s historic Route 66 and unsuccessfully attempted to bring it down.

Another protester, Alexander Siderits, 23, said he was participating because he was “fed up” with how police treat citizens. “It has reached a boiling point,” he said, “and people just can’t take it anymore.”

The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the police department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.

The gathering came days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for a homeless man who was fatally shot by police in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. The March shooting was captured on video and followed a long standoff. The FBI has opened an investigation into it.

The video, which bore the logo of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on city websites and called for the protest. Albuquerque police said their site had been breached early Sunday afternoon, but it was back by that evening.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik said investigators had not uncovered the source of the hack.



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