Albuquerque Police: Riots Were Sparked by 'Hacktivists'

Image: Albuquerque Police: Riots Were Sparked by 'Hacktivists' Riot police launch tear gas toward activists in downtown Albuquerque on March 30.

Monday, 31 Mar 2014 09:26 AM

By Courtney Coren

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The Albuquerque Police Department is saying that the anti-police riots that took place Sunday were the work of "hacktivists."

Hundreds of protesters marched from downtown Albuquerque to the University of New Mexico and reportedly blocked traffic, shouted anti-police slogans, trapped police officers in a vehicle, and threw gas canisters outside police headquarters, while Bernalillo County sheriff's SWAT Team tried to disperse the crowd by charging at the protesters, The Washington Post reported.

According to the Albuquerque Journal News, the protesters took over Interstate 25 briefly and sprayed graffiti on an Albuquerque Police Department substation. The protests began at noon and lasted into the night.

Several protesters were arrested, and one police officer was injured.

The protests were sparked by outrage over 37 shootings involving police officers in the New Mexico city since 2010, 23 of which were fatal. One in particular was the killing of a homeless man on March 16, which was videotaped and went viral on YouTube.

The "hacktivist" group Anonymous posted a YouTube video on March 25 threatening a cyberattack on city websites and telling residents to occupy police headquarters.

The Albuquerque Police Department website was breached Sunday, and a spokesman said it was because of a cyberattack. It was back up Sunday afternoon.

The FBI is investigating the shooting of the homeless man, and the Justice Department began investigating the department over a year ago "to determine whether the APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force."

City and department officials have promised full cooperation.

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