ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police are prepared for the possibility of more problems Monday night after vandals broke windows, started fires and sprayed graffiti across several downtown buildings Sunday night into early Monday morning. The late-weekend rioting sparked hours after peaceful protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
Addressing the damage Monday afternoon, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller called the events “scary for everyone.” The Mayor also indicated that APD’s response with officers in riot gear was appropriate.
“I do know they intervened as soon as they could in a safe way that would not lead to serious injury and so by that measure, because there was no serious injury, I am absolutely grateful,” Keller said Monday.
APD started the night with a relatively hands-off approach, helping block traffic and running crowd control for the peaceful protest on Central between Downtown and Nob Hill. However, once the vandalism and problems started around midnight, APD sent officers out in riot gear.
At points throughout the response early Monday morning, officers brandished wooden batons while forming lines within the street to force people back. Officers also used both tear gas and smoke grenades to try to disperse the crowds.
The city says it’s ready for similar protests to continue for several more days after having seen a pattern with similar protests in other major U.S. cities. When asked if he’s ready to call in the National Guard or impose a curfew, Mayor Tim Keller says it’s an option he’d consider, but not at this moment.
“We don’t want to do that, we need Albuquerque’s help, we are not going to do that today, and we believe with the help of peaceful protestors, and the work of our law enforcement folks, that’s unnecessary at this time,” Keller said. “Obviously, if things reach a certain point, we will not hesitate at all to do one of those two things, we don’t believe we’re at that point, we don’t want to be at that point, and we’re asking everyone to come together to keep us away from that point.”
APD officials also said Monday afternoon the department will be looking into closing off roads like Central Avenue to cars more quickly if violent protests re-emerge.
“Tonight, we do have a contingency plan that if there is some kind of demonstration, where it’s at, we are going to be working on a traffic control plan to limit the number of vehicles,” APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina said.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday the state is ready to offer help if Albuquerque or any other city needs it.
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