Trump’s Albuquerque rally turned violent when Albuquerque police officers used excessive force against protesters, many of whom appeared to be leaving the riots, not inciting them. This comes after the Department of Justice reported the APD engages in a pattern of violence and excessive force.
Anti-Trump protesters gathered outside the Albuquerque convention center Tuesday night. Some spoke out against Trump in general, but many chanted and held signs rejecting Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-Latino rhetoric. New Mexico has the highest Hispanic population share of all the states, Pew Research Center reported in 2013.
The crowd started fires, broke a door to the convention center, jumped on police cars and threw rocks and bottles at officers and their horses. Trump was no longer at the rally at this point, but the protests continued.
By the end of the night, though, the Albuquerque officers took to force to disperse the lingering crowd, including those who seemed to be bystanders. Video footage shows a group of people who appear to be leaving the scene, but officers spray them excessively with pepper spray. One woman stops and clutches her face and is throwndownby an officer with a baton.
Police also threw smoke grenades, originally mistaken for tear gas, at protesters. They denied the use of any tear gas that night.
DeRay Mckesson, a civil rights activist, member of Black Lives Matter and candidate for Baltimore mayor, posted the footage to his Twitter account.
dr.* deray mckesson (@deray) May 25, 2016
The police department stated on Twitter that, contrary to reports of gunfire, no firearms were used.
Over the course of the night, about 1,000 protesters participated, and the Albuquerque Police Department had about 200 officers assigned to the rally, KOAT reported. Four people were arrested, two adults and two juveniles, for disorderly conduct. About twelve people were detained.
A Fox News reporter on the scene that night, who was also caught in some of the officers’ pepper spray, said it was not apparent where the officers were trying to move the protesters.
“It’s not clear to me, I have to say, what they are trying to do exactly to end this protest, other than wait it out, keep pushing the protesters back, hope they get tired before the police get tired,” he said.
The lack of organization and use of force corresponds with a previous report by the Department of Justice into the APD’s practices. In April 2014, the DoJ investigated the APD and found “a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141.”
“Our investigation included a comprehensive review of APD’s operations and the City’s oversight systems,” the report states. “We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies-including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies contribute to the use of unreasonable force.”
The report further acknowledged that “at times, officers must use force, including deadly force, to protect themselves and others”; however, “a significant amount [of force used] falls short of [Fourth Amendment] requirements.”
Prior to the rally, the APD said it was monitoring social media to try and prepare for any potential violence at the event.
KOAT reported that the APD is still looking through video footage of the evening and intends to make more arrests.
Meanwhile, Trump, who left the rally before much of the chaos, took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to comment on the “thugs” outside the rally.
The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2016
The tweet echoes Trump’s comments regarding Mexicans the day he launched his campaign, when he denounced Mexicans as “criminals” and “rapists,” adding “some, I assume, are good people.” Inside his rally Tuesday night, his supporters came back at protesters and shouted, “Build that wall!”
Trump’s rallies have frequently escalated to violence, and he has garnered massive criticism for not doing more to prevent it.