Updated: June 16, 2020 03:17 PM
Created: June 03, 2020 05:19 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The Albuquerque Police Department is investigating an interaction officers had with MMA fighter Jon Jones prior to a Black Lives Matter protest.
Jones was among an armed group who tried to keep the peace in Albuquerque as protesters filled the streets Monday.
"I'm sure you guys can deescalate just by talking to them," an officer told Jones outside JacksonWink Academy. "But, obviously with us in uniform, they treat us a little bit different. So I mean, if you guys can talk to them on that level."
The interaction between Jones and police was captured on video and shared on social media.
"If we get in the way, if we're being more of a distraction than help, just gives one of us a call, and we'll clear the area as soon as possible," Jones told the officer.
Later Monday night, another armed group, New Mexico Civil Guard, butted heads with protesters. Two of the organizers of the peaceful protests, Frankie Grady and Arthur Bell, intervened as well as Jones. Jones is seen in the video helping defuse the situation.
While everyone said their goal was to keep the peace, APD is concerned about what could happen when people show up with guns.
"We want to discourage that kind of activity," said APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos. "Because regardless of their intentions, it has the potential to actually escalate the situation."
Police say, while open carrying a gun and wearing camouflage on Central is not against the law, the presences of guns and uniforms escalates tensions. That is why police have had minimal contact with protesters-- with the exception of Sunday night when rioters remained downtown.
"We very much understand the frustration of business owners, in particular, who are trying to protect their property," Gallegos said. "But, the police - we're downtown and dealing with these situations, we have a whole series of steps we take to try, and create the least amount of escalation - or potential of escalation - as possible at first."
A member of the New Mexico Civil Guard told KOB 4 they were asked by several businesses to protect their property. However, after speaking with police, he acknowledged that being armed with loaded guns on Monday was probably not a good idea. He said the group won't do that again.
The general manger of JacksonWink Academy, the gym where Jones trains, said they are frustrated with the destruction, and worried about businesses that have been devastated by the coronavirus, which is why they support Jones' effort to limit the destruction.
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