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Albuquerque protest of police turns to 'mayhem,' mayor says

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque mayor said late Sunday that a more than 10-hour protest over recent police shootings has turned from peaceful into “mayhem,” as officers in riot gear clashed with protesters who blocked traffic, tried to get on freeways and shouted anti-police slogans.

Richard Berry said one officer was injured, rocks were thrown and at one point protesters trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break the windows, the Albuquerque Journal reported. An Associated Press reporter saw gas canisters being thrown outside police headquarters and Albuquerque police and Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies charging at the protesters late Sunday, which mostly dispersed the crowds.

Berry didn't know of any arrests, and multiple messages left for the police department weren't immediately returned. Video by KRQE-TV shows people being led away in zip-tie restraints, but it's unclear if those people were arrested of if any protesters were injured.

“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. People are angry over Albuquerque police's involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal, since 2010. Critics say that's too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000.

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

The protest came 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 police said their site had been breached early Sunday afternoon, but it was visible late in the afternoon after being offline for hours.

Earlier Sunday, police spokesman Simon Drobik confirmed the disruption was due to a cyberattack and said investigators had not uncovered the source of the hack.

In the shooting on March 16 that led to the YouTube posting Tuesday, a homeless man was killed in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. The shooting was captured on video and followed a long standoff. The FBI has opened an investigation.

 Last week, Albuquerque police fatally shot a man at a public housing complex. Authorities said he shot at officers before they returned fire.

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