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Shooting protest march peaceful

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group of protesters gathered Downtown on Friday afternoon to criticize the Albuquerque Police Department and recent fatal officer-involved shootings, the latest in a series of demonstrations decrying what they say is police brutality and lack of accountability for officers.

Demonstrators march from Civic Plaza to the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown Albuquerque on Friday afternoon, protesting the Albuquerque Police Department and recent officer-involved shootings, including the killing of 38-year-old James M. Boyd. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Demonstrators march from Civic Plaza to the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown Albuquerque on Friday afternoon, protesting the Albuquerque Police Department and recent officer-involved shootings, including the killing of 38-year-old James M. Boyd. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The group assembled at Civic Plaza and marched east through Downtown. By 6 p.m., they were heading west on Central Avenue near Third Street chanting “This is a peaceful protest!” The group then marched up Central to the University of New Mexico and back to Civic Plaza, where they were around 9 p.m.

About two blocks’ worth of people comprised the protest Friday.

“The only way they’re going to fix the system is to hold those police officers accountable for murder,” said protester Robert Francis. “We need to provide for the homeless and mentally ill. I mean, I am one paycheck away from being homeless. We need to reach out with humanity, not with bullets.”

At Civic Plaza, speaker Nora Anaya drew large cheers when she suggested recalling Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.

Police declined to comment on what their plans were in dealing with the demonstration and, if they had responded to the scene, they largely kept out of sight.

Vehicles could be heard honking their horns in solidarity with the protesters and early bar-goers cheered them on as the group marched through Downtown.

The protest comes five days after another demonstration during which police deployed two rounds of tear gas to disperse crowds who had marched through the city for more than 12 hours.

Protesters were spotted lying across Interstate 25, trying to topple a traffic light and vandalizing a police substation in that protest.

Also, police threw more than a dozen tear gas canisters Downtown near the end of that protest after a man arrived with a rifle and urged protesters to take up armed resistance against officers.

Protesters were able to convince the man to stow the weapon and carry on demonstrating peacefully. Protesters also diffused other confrontations between the two groups.

Many protesters, in the aftermath of Sunday’s protest, said police sparked the confrontations by showing up in militarized garb and throwing tear gas.

Earlier Friday, City Hall employees were asked to leave early to avoid an “exorbitant” amount of foot and vehicle traffic expected because of the protest, said city spokeswoman Breanna Anderson.

The protest was the third large demonstration in recent weeks to decry the March 16 fatal shooting of 38-year-old James M. Boyd, who was camping illegally in the Sandia foothills when officers confronted him.

Video shows Boyd turning away from officers when officers shot him. He died the next day at a hospital.

The shooting reignited criticism of APD’s use of force. APD officers have shot and killed 23 men since 2010 and is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for possible civil rights violations.

There was also a memorial vigil Wednesday night at the site of the Boyd shooting.

Journal staff writer Ryan Boetel contributed to this report.

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