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Violence Breaks Out in Downtown Albuquerque after Peaceful Protest

City officials support racial justice, call for end to separate violence

June 1, 2020

After a planned peaceful protest that began at 7:00 p.m. at University and Central that lasted several hours, another group came out to downtown Albuquerque after midnight and began vandalizing businesses and damaging property.

The first wave of protesters were organized peacefully, with APD’s traffic officers helping block traffic for the large group. There were some acts of graffiti, but the vast majority of people marched in peace. When they reached UNM and splintered into smaller groups, the protest eventually ended.

Later, after midnight, there were reports of a gathering that started vandalizing businesses and damaging property. Some started small fires in dumpsters and eventually in the middle of some intersections.

APD deployed its Emergency Response Teams to a large portion of Downtown to keep people from vandalizing property and causing violence. Roving crowds moved up and down Central Avenue between 1st and 8th Streets. They also moved north and south, between Copper and Silver.

Some people threw bottles and other items at officers. Some climbed on building rooftops and threw things down to the street. After a few hours, shots were fired at police on Central, in front of the KiMo Theater with no injuries.

Shortly after that, several individuals started breaking windows at the KiMo and entered the historic building with some making it to the rooftop. There was a fear they might start a fire inside the historic building. Fortunately, several police units moved in quickly to stop the action and save the building from further damage.

Several businesses owned by local residents also sustained damage, including Humble Coffee, Filling Philly, Standard Diner, and others.

As vehicle traffic slowed on Central and additional police units were called into the area, the Emergency Response Teams were able to gain control and eventually end the violence.

Statements from Mayor Keller, Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair, and APD Chief Mike Geier

Mayor Tim Keller — “What we saw overnight downtown was not a protest, and it was not Albuquerque. Protesting is our constitutional right as Americans. We are strongest when we use it to come together as one and use our voices to express outrage and call for change, rather than using our hands to tear each other down. As your Mayor, I want to acknowledge the pain, anger, sorrow and frustration we are feeling in these times. Here in Albuquerque, we stand with those grieving these incidents around the nation. We stand with those calling for justice. I believe that Black Lives Matter, and so does the City of Albuquerque. We stand in solidarity with the African American community who are grieving the recurring violence against their community. What we saw last night was separate violence that must stop now.”

Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair — “The protestors all along the continuum of peacefulness share many of our goals in how we want the world to look. We share frustration at the speed of progress, although we express that frustration differently. If a riot is the language of the unheard, I want to be clear that we have been here, listening, learning, and engaging in police reform since the day Mayor took office. We want to continue to hear those messages.  We won’t overpromise, because that just erodes trust, but we will have an honest conversation about where we are and where we are going. We need to come together in a way that respects all of the pain and frustration, but it must be in a way that doesn’t endanger lives. As a non-Black person of color and the mother of an African-American child I am heartbroken everyday anew and in a constant state of prayer. And the only way I get through to survive is to get up the next morning and engage in this work and to realize that all we can do is work harder to build the world and the city that we want to live in. ”

Chief of Police Mike Geier — “Our officers once again stepped up to serve the community during tense and uncertain times. We are clear about the desire for many in our community to peacefully protest. As a police department, we want to protect people so they can safely carry out their Constitutional rights and express their opinions but we also ask for everyone to be cognizant of our safety mission and discourage illegal activity, violence and damage to property. The community is uniting to speak out against racism and the brutality that occurred in Minneapolis. We also need the support from our neighbors to protect our great city.”