Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden said police acted with great restraint after a peaceful protest over police shootings turned angry Sunday, ending with at least four arrests and police in riot gear unleashing tear gas on crowds at two sites, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Berry and Eden contended that police performed professionally even as some protesters sought out confrontations with officers, including spitting on them and preventing an officer from leaving his car. Police said two protesters carried assault rifles.
Eden said what started out as a peaceful protest by an estimated 350 people devolved into “lawless acts by a very angry mob” that required police intervention to protect the protesters and the public. An organizer with an activist group said it was police who escalated tensions by deploying in riot gear. Marchers took over much of downtown in response to the March 16 fatal shooting by police officers of James Boyd, a homeless and mentally ill man, in the Sandia Foothills. Protesters said they were calling for justice for Boyd and accountability for Albuquerque police.