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Protesters clash with police outside Trump rally in Albuquerque; authorities call it a riot

Protesters clash with police outside Trump rally in Albuquerque; authorities call it a riot
A protester is taunted as he is removed from a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque on May 24, 2016. (Brennan Linsley / Associated Press)

Protests outside a Donald Trump rally in New Mexico turned violent Tuesday night as demonstrators threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, overturned trash cans and knocked down barricades.

Authorities responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center in what police described as a "riot."

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During the rally, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers.

The banners included the messages "Trump is Fascist" and "We've heard enough."

At one point, a female protester was dragged from the stands by security officers. Other protesters scuffled with security as they resisted removal from the convention center, which was packed with thousands of loud and cheering Trump supporters.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Albuquerque on Tuesday. (Brennan Linsley / Associated Press)

Trump responded as he often does, instructing security to remove the protesters and mocking their actions by telling them to "Go home to mommy."

He said of one demonstrator: "How old is this kid?" Then he provided his own answer: "Still wearing diapers."

Trump's supporters responded with chants of "Build that wall!"

The altercations left glass smashed at the entrance of the convention center.

During the rally, protesters outside overran barricades and clashed with police in riot gear. They also burned T-shirts and other items labeled with Trump's catchphrase, "Make America Great Again."

Tuesday marked Trump's first stop in New Mexico, home to the largest Latino population in the U.S. Gov. Susana Martinez, head of the Republican Governors Assn. and the nation's only Latina governor, has harshly criticized his remarks on immigrants and has attacked his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The governor did not attend the rally and has yet to make an endorsement.

Trump read off a series of negative statistics about the state, including an increase in the number of people on food stamps.

"We have to get your governor to get going. She's got to do a better job, OK?" he said, adding: "Hey, maybe I'll run for governor of New Mexico. I'll get this place going."

The governor's office responded, saying Martinez has fought for welfare reform.

"The potshots weren't about policy, they were about politics," spokesman Michael Lonergan said in a written response. "And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans, and she did not hear that today."

Trump supporters at the rally said they appreciated his stance on boosting border security and stemming the flow of people crossing the border illegally, but some said they were frightened by the violent protests outside.

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Albuquerque attorney Doug Antoon said rocks were flying through the convention center windows as he was leaving Tuesday night. Glass was breaking and landing near his feet.

"This was not a protest, this was a riot. These are hate groups," he said of the demonstrators.

Albuquerque police said several officers were treated for injuries after getting hit by rocks thrown by protesters. At least one person was arrested, police said.

Karla Molinar, a University of New Mexico student, said she participated in the protests because she believes Trump is attacking members of her family who are living in the country illegally. She said she thinks he is using them as scapegoats for the nation's problems.

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UPDATES:

May 25 12:09 a.m.: This story was updated with details from the protest scene.

This story was originally posted at 8:22 p.m. May 24.

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