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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Protesters insist on peaceful rally

Demonstrations against APD persist

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Tylina Hardy, 28, holds a sign reading “Play By The Rules Blue” during a third round of demonstrations against the Albuquerque Police Department on Friday evening. The protesters occupied Civic Plaza at 4:15 p.m that day before marching downtown and up Central Avenue toward UNM, insisting along the way that the protest was to remain peaceful.

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Protesters gathered Friday evening for another round of demonstration against the Albuquerque Police Department. Though the 12-hour APD protest on March 30 ended in tear gas, this time the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Protesters occupied Civic Plaza at 4:15 p.m Friday before marching through the downtown area and east along Central Avenue toward UNM. The protest ended as the crowd returned to Civic Plaza around 9 p.m.

Many of the demonstrators insisted on keeping the protest peaceful.

“We are going to change the world,” shouted Nora Anaya, 64, through a megaphone as they marched along Central. “Things are going to be better now because this is a peaceful protest.”

As some protesters started moving into the street, others in the group urged them to stay on the sidewalk. Police followed the march without taking part in any confrontations.

The protesters were campaigning against what they perceive as APD’s frequent use of excessive force, Anaya said.

On March 16, Albuquerque Police Department officers shot and killed James Boyd, a homeless man who was caught illegally camping in the Sandia Foothills. In a video that was taken by an officer’s helmet camera, Boyd can be seen turning away from APD officers as they open fire.

But despite her insisting that it was a peaceful demonstration, said Cat Trahan, an anti-police brutality protester from California, a citizen from outside of the protest moved in front of Trahan’s bicycle and deliberately hit her in the face.

“Where are the police now?” she said.

Still, Trahan said, Fraiday’s protest was mild compared to the March 30 event. She said the protest then had been unpredictable on both ends.

Anaya, whose nephew was shot dead by APD, said last week’s protest started out peacefully before some of the younger protesters decided to act on their own. But she said some credit had to be given to the March 30 protest because of the impact it had on the media and politicians.

“The first one had about 1,000 people,” she said. “The politicians started talking to us. They weren’t doing that before.”

Some demonstrators said the protest on March 30 influenced their decision to attend Friday’s protest.

Grant Florian, a UNM graduate student studying anthropology, said he had friends who had been tear gassed at the first protest. He said he thought the use of tear gas on the protesters was unwarranted.

“That was kind of the push that got me here,” he said.

Florian also said he wanted to protest what he believe is the excessive use of force by APD in general. He said he hoped the movement in Albuquerque could go beyond just a local police brutality issue.

“I hope this can translate into a larger social movement,” he said. “If these protests continue, I’ll come.”

Anaya said there will continue to be protests against APD. She said she thinks the police need to be held accountable for their actions and that they need to stop justifying their fatal shootings of people such as Boyd.

“We’re bound and determined that there is going to be change,” she said.