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New Mexico governor calls for calm after protest

By: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) A day after hundreds of people clashed with Albuquerque riot officers over police shootings, Gov. Susana Martinez said Monday that she understands the public's frustration but called on protesters to remain calm while federal officials investigate.

At least one officer was injured and six people arrested as the protesters marched back and forth between downtown and the University of New Mexico for 10 hours Sunday, blocking traffic, trying to topple street signs and calling for the police chief and other city officials to resign. It's unclear if any protesters were hurt.

Gas canisters were thrown outside police headquarters, and Mayor Richard Berry said Sunday that at one point protesters trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break its windows.

Martinez said she watched the protests on television Sunday.

"Albuquerque is going through a tough time, and they'll figure it out through the investigation," the governor said. "We want that to be thorough. We want confidence in the investigation, but I just don't want to see anyone harmed."

This protest and another last week were in response to the 37 shootings Albuquerque police have been involved in since 2010, 23 of them fatal. The outrage bubbled over recently with the release of a video showing officers fatally shooting 38-year-old James Boyd, a homeless camper, as he appeared to be preparing to surrender on March 16. Ten days later, officers killed another man after they say he shot at them.

On Friday, the FBI confirmed it had opened a criminal investigation into the Boyd shooting. And the U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the Police Department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.

Multiple messages left with police and the city's mayor went unreturned Monday. Berry said Sunday night that at least one officer was injured, and jail records indicate at least six people were arrested.

Protesters took to the streets in the early afternoon and stayed out late Sunday after authorities declared an unlawful assembly.

Justin Elder, 24, followed the protest as a passenger in a car and held a sign that read, "APD: Dressed To Kill."

"That's what this police force is about," Elder said.

Albuquerque police in riot gear and New Mexico State Police followed the marchers, and protesters shouted epithets at officers. At one point, a protester climbed a tall street sign on the city's historic Route 66 and unsuccessfully tried to bring it down. Others tried to get on Interstate 25.

Another protester, Alexander Siderits, 23, said he was participating because he was "fed up" with how police treat citizens. "It has reached a boiling point," he said, "and people just can't take it anymore."

The protest came days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for the shooting of Boyd in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. The video, which bore the logo of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on city websites and called for the protest. Albuquerque police said their site had been breached early Sunday afternoon, but it was back online by that evening.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik said Sunday that investigators had not uncovered the source of the hack.

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