Police confront protesters, fire tear gas in SE ABQ - Albuquerque Journal

Police confront protesters, fire tear gas in SE ABQ

Protesters square off against police in riot gear Thursday night in Southeast Albuquerque. (Anthony Jackson/Albuquerque Journal)

Officers in riot gear fired what appeared to be tear gas as they retreated from a confrontation with protesters in a Southeast Albuquerque neighborhood overnight.

Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said there were no reported injuries to anyone involved in the incident.

The tensions had risen following an earlier Black Lives Matter demonstration at Central and Wyoming over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a black man, died in police custody on Monday after a white officer restrained him by digging his knee into his neck.

Floyd was handcuffed and could be heard telling the officer he could not breathe. Video of the incident, which was taken by a bystander, has gone viral, sparking protests across the country.

The Albuquerque demonstration went on for hours.

Gallegos said the situation boiled over late Thursday night after officers stopped and detained a group of people, who allegedly shot dozens of rounds, near the Black Lives Matter protest at Central and Wyoming.

Gallegos said several protesters surrounded them following the arrest and became confrontational. At least two police vehicles had their windows smashed out during the blow up.

That led to a confrontation on Mesilla, just north of Central, where dozens of protesters waved signs and yelled at officers clad in riot gear, wielding batons.

A woman told the Journal that the crowd had followed the police from Central and Wyoming after they saw officers pulling over a vehicle nearby and arresting some men without telling them why.

She said officers in riot gear showed up after the protesters began to surround the police.

Protesters yelled “I can’t breathe” and “(expletive) the police” as they paced a few feet from the officers.

Dozens of people crowded the block of Mesilla, some recording from their phones at a distance as others blocked the end of the street with their vehicles.

The line of riot police began to load onto city buses as a helicopter shined its spotlight onto the gathering and told the crowd to disperse.

It was right then that at least three gas canisters were fired into the crowd. A woman was injured, but it was unclear by what. A man began throwing the canisters back at the officers as the crowd ran back toward Central.

Protesters gathered around the woman on the ground, and she appeared to be shaken but OK.

But it didn’t end there, as Gallegos said after the crowd dispersed someone stole the vehicle that police had initially stopped the four shooting suspects in.

Officers followed the vehicle, alongside a couple car loads of protesters, to the University area where it was abandoned.

Police tried to arrest the driver when he got into another vehicle, but a group of protesters came to his defense. Officers let the man go to prevent another confrontation.

In Minneapolis, protesters set fire to a police station on Thursday. Protesters also clashed with police in New York City, while demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Denver, according to The Associated Press.

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