Albuquerque Erupts Over Police Shootings

Hundreds of protesters take to streets

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 31, 2014 6:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – What started as a peaceful protest yesterday in Albuquerque ended up with at least six protesters arrested, one officer injured, and more than two dozen canisters of tear gas thrown into the hundreds-strong crowd. Demonstrators started rallying downtown at noon, protesting against officer-involved shootings in the city, particularly the March 16 fatal shooting of homeless man James M. Boyd. The tear gas was used after 9pm, when protesters ignored commands to disperse, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Demonstrators also blocked traffic and caused "mayhem," the mayor said, as they tried to get onto freeways, the AP reports. Protesters were accused of vandalism, fighting, throwing rocks, and trying to break the windows of a police cruiser with an officer trapped inside. "We respected their rights to protest, obviously," said the mayor, but "they’ve taken it far beyond a normal protest."

Boyd, who struggled with mental illness, was caught on video as he faced off with officers in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. He was standing several feet away from police and turning away from them, but holding two knives, when he was shot, the Wire reports. Once he was down, officers also set a police dog on him and fired beanbags at him. The FBI is investigating the incident. Police in the city of about 555,000 have been involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal, and the Justice Department is investigating civil rights complaints against the department. Hacktivist group Anonymous called for yesterday's march; it also launched a cyberattack on the police department website.

Riot police launch tear gas toward activists in downtown Albuquerque, NM, following a 10-hour protest around the city, Sunday, March 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Riot police stand guard in front of protesters in downtown Albuquerque, NM, Sunday, March 30,2014.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Protesters block traffic Sunday March 30, 2014, in front of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM, during a rally against recent police shootings.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Protesters tries to pull down an Albuquerque, NM, street sign Sunday March 30, 2014, during a rally against recent police shootings.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
A protester faces off with an Albuquerque officer during a rally against recent police shootings in Albuquerque, NM, on Sunday March 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Albuquerque police face off with protesters Sunday, March 30, 2014, in downtown Albuquerque, NM, during a protest against recent police shootings.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Protesters sit in downtown Albuquerque, NM/ during a rally Sunday March 30, 2014, against recent police shootings.   (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
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