Anti-Trump protests turn violent outside New Mexico rally

Pepper spray is deployed at protestors of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump at the Albuquerque Convention Center after the Trump rally in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In one of the presidential campaign year’s more grisly spectacles, protesters in New Mexico opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, injuring several, and toppled trash cans and barricades.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

During the rally, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers.

The banners included the messages “Trump is Fascist” and “We’ve heard enough.”

Related: Donald Trump goes west — and faces big hurdles

At one point, a female protester was physically dragged from the stands by security. Other protesters scuffled with security as they resisted removal from the convention center, which was packed with thousands of loud and cheering Trump supporters.

Trump responded with his usual bluster, instructing security to remove the protesters and mocking their actions by telling them to “Go home to mommy.”

He responded to one demonstrator by asking, “How old is this kid?” Then he provided his own answer: “Still wearing diapers.”

Trump’s supporters responded with chants of “Build that wall!”

Trump later tweeted “Great rally in New Mexico, amazing crowd!”

The altercations left glass at the entrance of the convention center smashed.

A protestor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a burning T-shirt as hundreds of people protest outside a rally for Trump in Albuquerque, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
A protestor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a burning T-shirt as hundreds of people protest outside a rally for Trump in Albuquerque, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

Albuquerque attorney Doug Antoon said rocks were flying through the convention center windows as he was leaving Tuesday night. Glass was breaking and landing near his feet.

“This was not a protest, this was a riot. These are hate groups,” he said of the demonstrators.

Albuquerque police said several officers were treated for injuries after getting hit by rocks thrown by protesters. At least one person was arrested from the riot, police said.

During the rally, protesters outside overran barricades and clashed with police in riot gear. They also burned T-shirts and other items labeled with Trump’s catchphrase, “Make America Great Again.”

Tuesday marked Trump’s first stop in New Mexico, the nation’s most Hispanic state. Gov. Susana Martinez, head of the Republican Governors Association and the nation’s only Latina governor, has harshly criticized his remarks on immigrants and has attacked his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The governor did not attend the rally and has yet to make an endorsement.

Trump read off a series of negative statistics about the state, including an increase in the number of people on food stamps.

“We have to get your governor to get going. She’s got to do a better job, OK?” he said, adding: “Hey, maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going.”

The governor’s office fired back, saying Martinez has fought for welfare reform.

“The potshots weren’t about policy, they were about politics,” said spokesman Michael Lonergan. “And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans, and she did not hear that today.”

Trump supporters at the rally said they appreciated his stance on boosting border security and stemming the flow of people crossing the border illegally, but some said they were frightened by the violent protests outside.

Karla Molinar, a University of New Mexico student, said she participated in disrupting Trump’s speech because she felt he was attacking members of her family who are living in the country illegally. She said she believes Trump is using them as scapegoats for the nation’s problems.

___

Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed to this report from Albuquerque.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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