Protesters have been agitating for weeks about the six-day National Rifle Association marksmanship tournament in Albuquerque, reports the New York Times. The Albuquerque Police Department was was reprimanded by the U.S. Justice Department in April over a spate of fatal shootings, many of which were declared to be unconstitutional uses of deadly force. Several local officers are participating in the National Police Shooting Championships, which end tomorrow with trophies and prizes. “It's a slap in the face,” said Mary Jobe, 30, who took part in a protest this week. Her fiancé, Daniel Tillison, 31, was shot dead after hitting two vehicles with his S.U.V. and flashing what an officer said he thought was a gun, but turned out to be a cellphone. The couple had three children.
Protesters object to the competition and to what they said was the insensitivity of holding it here. “Albuquerque police don't need training in how to kill citizens out here — they already do a really good job of it,” Jobe said. Organizers of the tournament and local police officials defended the competition, calling it a sporting event that has the added benefit of helping officers from around the U.S. improve their skills. The competition — part social, part professional development — has nothing to do with officer-involved shootings or the Justice Department reprimand, they said. “This is a marksmanship event,” said Tanner Tixier of the Albuquerque Police Department. “We're not shooting people. This is getting really blown out of proportion.”