Albuquerque Erupts Over Police Shootings

Hundreds of protesters take to streets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2014 6:43 AM CDT
Albuquerque Erupts Over Police Shootings
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)

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. (More Albuquerque stories.)

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