Civil rights group blames APD for Trump rally violence; Police union advocates for officer safety

police at trump rally
Albuquerque Police at the Trump rally

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association has filed a complaint against the Mayor’s Office and the Albuquerque Police Department, claiming they put officers in danger the night of Donald Trump’s rally by not putting enough cops on the streets that night.

It comes on the same day that a civil rights group came out saying that APD’s response at the rally was overkill.

The complaint comes after several officers were injured at the protest that turned violent. The complaint slams the city, saying officers got hurt because they weren’t ready for the violence that ensued.

It was a night of intense protesting that eventually turned into rioting. Rocks and barriers were tossed; t-shirts were set on fire and people got aggressive.

APD claimed that every single one of their roughly 200 officers that were in downtown Albuquerque that night were hit by something.

“We were basically ordered to stand there and let people throw rocks at us,” said Justin Montgomery, vice president of the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Union.

That is why Albuquerque Police Union has filed a complaint in district court against the city, claiming APD violated their union deal for safe working conditions. The complaint reads, “The Department failed to properly provide enough manpower to safely conduct this operation.” The complaint goes on to say that officers were not properly equipped to protect themselves and they were sent out without riot gear.

“During the protest, officers started asking the supervisors on scene ‘Can we go in groups back to get our gear?’ which they were denied,” said Montgomery.

APD would not go on camera but they said in  a statement that officer safety is paramount and that the city handled the protests appropriately.

Full Statement: 

“Officer safety is paramount.  Although the City of Albuquerque believes that this matter was handled appropriately, it is currently reviewing the allegations in the complaint and will respond to them before the Labor Board.”

The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) is accusing APD of escalating the situation at the Trump rally and says that APD has been conducting a witch hunt, going after the protesters in such a public way over the past couple of weeks. They believe the department has a pro-Trump agenda.

Members of SWOP and other local activists spoke at City Council on Monday.

“Stop the high-financed witch hunt by local Trump supporters working in partnership with the Albuquerque Police Department,” said Javier Benavidez, executive director of SWOP.

City Council President Dan Lewis reminded people of the rules of decorum several times throughout the meeting as people in the crowd clapped or shouted while someone else was speaking at the podium.

“You want to get me out of here? Get me out of here,” one woman said after she was told her two minutes to speak during public comment were up.

“It’s just really unfortunate how our city keeps being divided and everything we’re doing wrong is on national news,” said Councilor Klarissa Peña about the Trump violence that made headlines.

“I mean, we’re talking about a small group, I think the Mayor characterized around 30 people, really trying to create mayhem,” said Councilor Isaac Benton.

SWOP claims the violence came only after an aggressive response from APD, pointing to images and video that they say shows APD’s horses nearly trampling people.

The city denied those claims.

“It’s important to remember that freedom of speech does not mean freedom to commit violence,” said Chief of Staff Gilbert Montaño.

Montaño said the Mayor’s Office supported the police response on the night of the protest and in the days that followed when police made arrests.

“The community does not want to see their officers have rocks thrown at them or have their horses thrown rocks at or jumping on police cars or fires lit or personal property or windows bashed, and that’s not protesting. That’s violence and that’s something that shouldn’t be condoned,” Montaño said.

The Union claims officers were told to stand down during the riots because the Mayor and APD were afraid of the bad public relations if they got too aggressive.

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