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Protesters clash with police in Albuquerque, NM

Published: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:25 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Riot police launch tear gas toward activists in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. following a 10-hour protest around the city, Sunday, March 30, 2014. Hundreds of protesters marched past riot police in Albuquerque on Sunday, days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for a recent deadly police shooting. The video, which bore the logo of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on city websites and called for the protest march.

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 protesters at one point trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break its windows. Mayor Richard Berry said one officer was injured during the protest.

Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies charged at the protesters late Sunday, mostly dispersing the crowds.

Police did not respond to multiple messages seeking information on whether any protesters were hurt or arrested. But jail records Monday showed at least six people were booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on disorderly conduct charges.

"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 Sunday and stayed out late after authorities declared an unlawful assembly. The outrage bubbled over following the recent fatal shooting of a homeless man as he appeared to be surrendering after an hourslong standoff in the Sandia foothills. Video of that shooting has been posted on websites around the world.

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation of the shooting, while the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating allegations of excessive force and a culture of abuse for more than a year.

Albuquerque police officers have been involved 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 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 gathering came days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for the March shooting of the 38-year-old homeless man, James Boyd.

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 was 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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