Albuquerque police face ‘mayhem’ from protesters


Tue, Apr 01, 2014 - Page 7

A protest over deadly police shootings turned from peaceful into “mayhem,” Albuquerque’s mayor said late on Sunday, as officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators.

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

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

Alexander Siderits, 23, said he was participating because he was “fed up” with how police treat citizens.

“It has reached a boiling point, and people just can’t take it anymore,” he said.

A reporter saw gas canisters being thrown, and Albuquerque police and Bernalillo County, New Mexico, sheriff’s deputies charging at the crowds, which had mostly dispersed by late Sunday.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said one police officer was injured, and at one point protesters trapped officers in a vehicle and tried to break the windows, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Berry did not know of any arrests, and multiple messages left for the police department were not immediately returned.

Video footage by a local news station showed people being led away in restraints, but it was unclear whether those people were arrested.

The gathering came days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for a recent deadly police shooting.

The video, which bore the logo of the activist collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on Albuquerque city Web sites and called for the protest march. Albuquerque police said their site had been breached on Sunday afternoon and police spokesman Simon Drobik confirmed that the disruption was due to a cyberattack.

In the shooting on March 16 that led to the YouTube posting, a homeless man was killed on the east side of Albuquerque. The shooting followed a long standoff and was captured on video.

The FBI has opened an investigation into the shooting.

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