ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Clashes at 12 hour anti-police protest, teargas, vandalism
The link at the top of the article contains video and pictures.
A protest over the Albuquerque Police Department's use of force stretched late into Sunday night.
The protest finally ended just before midnight.
Around 9 p.m., police used tear gas in an attempt to put an end to the demonstration. Albuquerque police arrested at least six people and charged them with disorderly conduct.
At least one officer was injured during the protest. Mayor Richard Berry said another officer was spit on and hit with a rock, while another was trapped in a patrol car.
Berry said he was proud of the job APD did Sunday.
"APD has done an exceptional job this afternoon of deescalating situations when we have protesters who obviously are in a situation where they want to escalate the situation on numerous occasions," Berry said. "We want people to be able to protest, obviously they have their First Amendment rights to do that, but what it appears what we have on our hands now is a smaller group of individuals whose main goal is not to protest but to put the public and themselves in danger."
There were several instances of property damage and graffiti along the protest route.
Protesters made their way back to Albuquerque police headquarters. They said they wouldn't stop until the chief is fired. Another round of tear gas was used to clear the remaining protesters.
At its height, around 500 demonstrators marched through the streets, holding up signs and traffic in the process.
The protest made stops at APD's headquarters, Civic Plaza and the University of New Mexico's main campus. The protest started around noon.
Around 5 p.m. police officers ordered the group to clear the area near APD headquarters, calling it an unlawful protest. There was a standoff between protesters and police in tactical gear for more than an hour before protesters retreated and resumed their march up Central Avenue.
Police briefly closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 25 after protesters started marching on the interstate around 7 p.m. They were clear of I-25 within 15 minutes.
The original protest started as a more peaceful demonstration outside Albuquerque police headquarters. At that time, a couple hundred people were there to call for changes in the wake of the James Boyd shooting.
During the portion of the demonstration in front of APD headquarters, the group chanted for justice and accountability. Family members of those killed by APD officers also spoke.
Amanda Chavez said police shot and killed her brother Santiago Chavez in 2012.
"I was disgusted because I've seen that first-hand," she said of the Boyd shooting video.
A man carrying an AK-74 during the protest explained why he was out there.
"They shot first and asked questions later ... unarmed civilians, civilians who didn't even show a threat," he said.
Officials said the protesters did not have a permit.
"I think the government, and the police department and the all of powers that be are not listening to us and if that’s what it takes to get them to listen to us, then I’m pretty OK with it," protester Sotya Simmons said.
Boyd, a homeless man, was shot and killed by Albuquerque officers on March 16. Police said Boyd was armed with two knives and was illegally camping.
APD said officers fired flash bang rounds and Tasers at Boyd before using lethal force.
Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez were involved in the shooting and both are on leave. While Perez served as a Marine, Sandy has a long, law enforcement history with ups and downs.
On Friday, the FBI announced it was investigating the Boyd officer-involved shooting. Berry said that six agencies are now investigating the shooting.
Demonstrators Sunday were also asking for citizen oversight of the police department.
"You're asking police to police more police, and I think that's just asking for corruption," one protester said.
The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating the use of force in APD since 2012. DOJ officials haven't said when their inquiry will end or when they will present their findings.
Protesters handed out fliers, asking for citizens to voice their concern at the next City Council meeting.