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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Protesters return to the streets against Albuquerque police

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

A protester donning a Guy Fawkes mask throws up a peace sign toward police in SWAT uniform setting up on the corner of Central and Yale on Sunday during the protest against the Albuquerque Police Department.

news@dailylobo.com

Updated at 10:22 p.m.

At about 9:20 p.m., officers deployed tear gas on about 100 people near the intersection of Central and Columbia.

Police encircled protesters as the face-off intensified among protesters and them. Riot police on horses stood firmly on the east side of the intersection as the SWAT team approached from the west. Officers then threw tear gas grenades to protesters.

UNM students who were watching over the sidewalk got caught up in the gassing.

“I feel like I just got beat with a stick,” said Ruben Holly, a UNM student who got gassed. “Every single mucus membrane on my face just let loose. I couldn’t see. I was about to throw up. It sucked straight up.”

Holly said he was watching the confrontations unfold with friends when cops attacked. He said that although the police should not have used force near a student residential community, protesters extremely provoked them.

“I think the protesters got a little too far,” he said. “They got away from the issue to just hating police. That’s not a constructive way to voice a criticism of the community. They’re just looking to incite conflict like this.”

Police vacated the area at about 9:40 p.m.

At 10:09 p.m., UNM issued another emergency alert saying, “police activity at Central and Girard has ended. Please return to normal activity.”

The University has also received reports of gas reaching inside the dorms.

UNM Director of Communication Dianne Anderson said on Twitter that “if gas enters dorm room from protest, turn off AC to prevent it from spreading in the unit.”

Updated at 9:20 p.m.

Police and protesters engaged in a second tear gas standoff at the intersection of Central and Girard.

At about 8:15 p.m., police lined up again to blockade Central Avenue. They closed the UNM portion of Central from Girard to about Yale.

At least two prisoner transport trucks were present at the site.
At about 8:30 p.m., a SWAT team arrived at the scene carrying tear gas and nonlethal guns. They warned protesters again that they were gathering unlawfully and ordered them to vacate the street.
Riot police on horses also arrived to push away protesters from the street.

But protesters, most carrying signs and donning rags on the lower half of their faces, were not deterred. At about the intersection of Central and Vassar, they approached police on horses and continued provoking them.

At that point, the crowd was divided into those wanting to march westward along Central and those who wanted to continue confronting cops.

The crowd ultimately decided to march back to downtown as most yelled, “March, march,” loudly. Police on horses followed protesters.

At about 9:02 p.m., UNM issued an alert urging “campus residents should shelter in place due to protests and police activity at Central and Girard. Please avoid the area at this time.”

Updated at 8:50 p.m.

At around 7 p.m. three protesters climbed the streetlights at the intersection of Central and Yale. One of the protesters attempted to take down the Central sign on the light, but the rope they were using failed to hold.

The protesters then proceeded down Central to the Triangle Substation on Girard and Central. More than 20 protesters climbed on top of the building and another protester wrote “FTP” and an “A” in red spray paint on the station.

Police showed up soon after and lined up along Central, near Vassar. Protesters started shouting and the police. Some even threw small rocks as APD barricaded the way westbound along Central.

Updated at 7:40 p.m.

After more than an hour of standoff, police did not deploy tear gas on protesters, as they ended up marching away from police.

Initially, some protesters continued to distribute rags with vinegar and advised protesters to wear them in case police used tear gas. Over a megaphone, police announced that protesters were involved in “unlawful gathering” and ordered them to move southbound on Fifth Street.

Police, already wearing tear gas masks, also ordered that protesters sit down and withdraw to the sidewalk and threatened to arrest them if they do not do so.

A SWAT team and an armored vehicle were present in the scene. At least three officers carried tear gas guns as officers lined up to block Fifth amid resounding yells by protesters.

The Daily Lobo was able to take a picture of a pair of binoculars on top of the BBVA building along Marquette.

At about 6:30 p.m., protesters marched back eastward along Central. Still, a couple of protesters stayed at the intersection of Roma and Fifth to confront police.

Police retreated phase by phase by 6:45 p.m.

Protesters proceeded to take their march on the I-25 freeway, where several laid down across the road. The group then marched back to UNM. Two protesters climbed streetlights at the intersection of Yale and Central.

Original story

Protesters flooded Central Avenue on Sunday after the online group Anonymous called on the city’s residents to protest the Albuquerque Police Department after the shooting of a homeless man.

Hundreds gathered in front of APD’s headquarters downtown after Anonymous posted a video press release on YouTube Wednesday urging residents to protest police violence in the city.

This is the second protest against APD since the department released a helmet-camera video of the March 16 killing of James Boyd. Boyd, a homeless man, was caught illegally camping in the Sandia Foothills, and can be seen in the video being shot three times by APD officers while he turned away.

Twenty-three men have been shot dead by APD since 2010.

Anonymous, in its video press release, threatened to cyberhack APD. At about 10:50 a.m. Sunday, APD confirmed that its servers were down due to a cyber attack.

In the downtown protest, relatives survived by men killed by police expressed their grievances against the city’s police department.

Protesters confronted APD officers as they marched along Central. At first, protesters urged each other to march just on sidewalks, claiming that “this is a peaceful protest.” But as the march went around downtown, they started marching on the streets amid cars.

They first confronted two police officers at the intersection of Central and Oak. There was a car accident as protesters marched by.

Police continued to deploy police cars, ordering protesters through megaphones to keep off the road. Protesters met three more police officers at the intersection of Central and University, but still refused to vacate the streets.

At least five armed officers awaited protesters at Central and Yale, where they met protesters who screamed at their faces. The confrontation continued to outside the UNM Bookstore, where at least 20 police officers lined up and blockaded protesters, who continued to yell against police.

Protesters yelled chants such as “jail killer cops” and told police, “don’t shoot us.” Across UNM, some protesters called out toward officers.

Police were able to divide the protesters into two groups as they blockaded the sidewalk, preventing the tail end of the group from rejoining with the front group. But the crowd rejoined at Nob Hill, and it continued to march back downtown.

So far, nobody has been reported injured in the protest, which is heading back up to Nob Hill along Central.

Check back to the Daily Lobo for more updates.