State police arrested at least 40 Occupy Albuquerque protesters late Tuesday night after UNM administrators refused to renew the protesters’ permit to occupy Yale Park.
Protesters who wanted to risk arrest in an act of civil disobedience sat in a circle holding hands in the middle of Yale Park, while nearly 200 supporters stood around them and on the sidewalk across Central Avenue.Protesters sang and chanted, “We are the 99 percent,” “This is what democracy looks like” and “Whose park? Our park.” UNM administrators told protester they must leave campus by 10 p.m. Tuesday. Police blocked traffic on Central from Yale Boulevard to Cornell Drive at 11:20 p.m.
Those arrested included former Daily Lobo reporter and current Alibi reporter Andrew Beale, student Brittany Arneson and Henry Edwards. One protester resisted arrest.
Protester James Roach said he blames UNM President David Schmidly for the arrests.
“This is a complete infringement on our First Amendment, which is the first right our founding fathers gave us, so to me what’s happening right now is not necessarily the city, but president Schmidly,” he said.
Patrolman Mike Timm with APD stands guard as (un)Occupy Albuquerque protesters are arrested at UNM’s Yale Park late Tuesday night. University administration told proters they must leave the campus by 10 p.m. Tuesday night and that those who didn’t would risk arrest.
Near midnight about 200 protesters flooded onto to Central Avenue. Some members of the crowd sat in the middle of the street, and several protesters were arrested by APD for blocking the road.
After police removed protesters from Yale Park, the remaining occupants moved to the westbound lane of Central Avenue. They continued chanting, “We are the 99 percent, you are the 99 percent.”
Protesters who didn’t want to risk arrest acted as a “support group” to help and encourage those arrested, protester and support group member Sean Miyaki said.“We’re kind of like backup, so they’re not going in alone,” he said.
More than 20 police cars, prisoner transport vehicles and riot trucks parked behind Rasoi Indian Cuisine on Yale before descending on the protest.
At least 50 State Police, Albuquerque Police Department and UNM Police Department officers wielding zip-cuffs and riot gear formed a police line to force protesters onto the sidewalk.
State officer R. Vigil told protesters he’s “just like you” and he hoped they would leave peacefully.
“We don’t want to be out here,” he said. “A lot of us sympathize with them. We’re just doing our jobs.”
Protesters in the arrest group were arrested without resistance.
Officers touched each protester’s back, on at a time, and the
protester stood to be led away in zip cuffs. The last member of the 22 people voluntarily arrested, Carolyn Hues, an elderly woman, also left without resistance.
Protesters asked police to “join us in peace” and one protester thanked the police force for protecting the state’s residents.
At 12:30 UNMPD and state police asked the remaining protesters to leave Yale Park, which the protesters did without issue.
From there the group sprawled across westbound Central Avenue.
Protester Howard Lackey urged protesters, via a megaphone, to remain peaceful.
“Let’s keep this movement going,” he said. “Let’s keep the streets moving. It’s not our job to block them.”
APD drove through the street occasionally, asking all protesters on the street to move to the sidewalk or the median.
The situation escalated when protester Stephen Williams sat in the streets., and then was drug off by police. He escaped from the officers, and attempted to run away, but he was quickly tackled, maced and zip cuffed.
At the same time, a crowd surrounded him as he was being arrested, and the police responded by threatening to mace and or taser anyone who didn’t move back immediately.
From this point on, the protest calmed down.
At 1:23 a.m. fireworks started going off in the neighborhood near University.
UNM representatives could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.