Protests Turn Violent Outside Trump Rally in New Mexico
Trump's supporters responded to the demonstrators with chants of "Build that wall!"
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."
Trump lashed back at protester, tweeting Wednesday: "The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!" 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.
Albuquerque attorney Doug Antoon said rocks were flying through the convention center's windows as he was leaving Tuesday night, and that 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. Then added: "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.
The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2016
Protesters throwing rocks, charging at police outside of Trump rally in NM. Man live on CNN: "F--- Donald Trump!" pic.twitter.com/Ku1p8qei38— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) May 25, 2016
Police say reports of shots fired outside of Donald Trump rally are not verified. However, fires set, rocks thrown. pic.twitter.com/EK07z7uCvp— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) May 25, 2016
The Albuquerque Police were providing updates on the scene via their Twitter feed Tuesday night.
Only arrests at this point have been from inside the rally.— Albuquerque Police (@ABQPOLICE) May 25, 2016
There is no confirmation that any gunshots were fired, contrary to reports. Possible damage to Convention Center Windows by pellet gun— Albuquerque Police (@ABQPOLICE) May 25, 2016
Trump won at least 24 delegates in Washington state, with 20 still left to be allocated. He has 1,193 delegates. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination. The billionaire businessman's Tuesday night victory pulls him within 44 delegates of the number needed to become the Republican nominee.
There are no more Republican contests until June 7, when the last five states vote. With a total of 303 delegates at stake in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota, Trump should easily clinch the nomination that day.
On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton won the primary in Washington state. Clinton's win might give her some momentum, but it won't get her any delegates. There were no delegates at stake in the Democratic primary. Washington Democrats already awarded their delegates based on party caucuses.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won Washington's caucuses in March, getting 74 delegates. Clinton got 27.
Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in the delegate count and he is running out of contests in his long-shot bid to catch up. Clinton is just 78 delegates short of clinching the Democratic nomination for president. She is on track to do so in early June, even if she loses all the remaining contests. Clinton has 1,768 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. Sanders has 1,497.