APD chief, mayor talk about Sunday's protest

Updated: 03/31/2014 10:12 PM | Created: 03/31/2014 5:26 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It started with hundreds peacefully chanting. But as the day wore on, so did the tone of a protest against an APD shooting.

The violence Sunday night rattled the city. You could still see the aftermath this morning. Many people are afraid to even ask "what's next?"

Police say Sunday's protest hovered at 350 people and did not grow throughout the day, but the tone of the protest certainly changed, and that's when police in riot gear moved in.

APD chief Gorden Eden acknowledged that the protest began peacefully. He said APD was in constant contact with the original organizers, and they initially tipped off police that the action was turning disorderly.

Eden confirmed they had information protestors began fighting with each other; there was no leadership within the group. He also indicated that protestors were actively seeking out police - trying to engage police rather than avoiding them.

When the protest turned violent -- specifically when protestors swarmed the northbound lanes of I-25 at Central Avenue, Eden said the crowd blocked first responder access to an injury crash at that intersection. "The mob did in fact block emergency response into that area. They also blocked the emergency room access to Presbyterian Hospital, and took over Central Ave," Eden said.

Chief Eden said four people were arrested as a result of the protest. By the end of the night though, APD arrested six people -- all charged with disorderly conduct. Police said two of those arrests are unrelated to the protest even though they were made in the same general location and at the same time as the others.

Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry also spoke out Monday. He said he supports the first amendment and the right people have to protest, but he criticizes the protesters who started breaking the law.

The mayor said officers handled themselves well, despite the obvious tension. "I talked to a young man yesterday, one of the officers who talked about being--- you know someone spit in his face and someone hit him in the back with what he thought was a rock or something. We had objects being hurled at officers and the fact that they were able to de-escalate those situations speaks highly for their professionalism," Berry said.

This whole situation started just over two weeks ago. On March 16, two officers shot and killed James Boyd. Police said the mentally ill homeless man was camping illegally in the foothills. Lapel camera video of the shooting went viral.

Nine days later, on March 25, hundreds of protesters marched along Central to APD headquarters. Just hours after that protest: Another deadly APD shooting. An officer shot and killed Alfred Redwine. Police said Redwine was armed and fired first. Then yesterday, a protest that started peacefully turned confrontational when the sun went down.

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