The Albuquerque Police Department told media they are preparing for a big crowd Tuesday night when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brings his campaign to town.
A police spokesman also said that they are not anticipating any problems from protesters who are already planning to gather at the same time Tuesday night.
A group organizing the protest also is planning for a peaceful protest and is saying they’re seeing a large amount of online interest.
Trump will be at the Albuquerque Convention Center, just days after Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders drew 7,000 supporters for a rally.
So many media outlets were asking about the security for the rally that the Albuquerque Police Department called a press conference to address the issues.
Spokesman Tanner Tixier would not go into specifics on most details of the preparation, but said they are working with other law enforcement entities throughout the state.
Tixier also said that all seven of the department’s horse mounted units would be there. He cautioned it was “not necessarily as riot or human control, but just to try to get a higher vantage point from everything and also to help out people getting them their directions.”
“We’re not expecting any trouble,” Tixier said of protesters. He said everything on “open source social media” has shown there shouldn’t be any problems.
George Luján, the communications organizer for Southwest Organizing Project, a community group that is organizing a protest for Tuesday,* told NM Political Report that safety is a top consideration for the organization.
“Anything that we’re going to put our name on, we have to make sure that it is safe and safety is at the forefront of those decisions, especially when you do a direct political action,” he said.
“We imagine that confrontations may happen between different groups, whether it be Trump supporters attacking or whatever it may be, we have to be sure that we are able to deescalate the situation which is a very important tool for anyone, really,” Luján continued.
Luján also outlined why the organization, and others, are going to protest the rally.
“This level of xenophobia, of white nationalism is completely unacceptable,” he said. “And it’s really necessary that all of these groups come together because we all count on each other and we realize that we are the future of the country.”
Trump’s rallies have drawn protests around the nation, with many citing similar criticisms of Trump’s rhetoric and campaigning.
Big crowds, not much parking
Tixier said the biggest concern was just the large amount of people who would be descending upon the downtown area.
“We highly recommend you get here early,” Tixier said, when referring to parking. “We have a feeling it’s going to fill up very, very quickly.”
Tixier couldn’t say exactly how many police expected to be at the rally and protests, but said that APD would be prepared.
Luján said SWOP is also anticipating a large crowd.
“I’m expecting there to be a really strong community presence in protest of Donald Trump and of his hateful rhetoric and very backwards policy vision,” he said. “We’ve heard a lot of people already in this community in Albuquerque and New Mexico speak against him.”
Still, Luján notes that the online communities and on-the-ground communities aren’t always the same.
“Just creating this event, inviting people to protest Trump has been one of the most popular online events that we’ve had,” he said. “But like I said, the online engagement and the on-the-ground engagement don’t always align.”
When asked by a TV station what he would tell the protesters Tixier asked that they show respect for their own rights as well as those with “the opposite viewpoint of you.”
“We want to promote Albuquerque as a place people can come and visit and enjoy and not a place of chaos and pure anarchy,” Tixier said.
There were no large organized protests at the Sanders rally last week and police did not hold a press conference about their plans for that event.
Tixier said they would be looking into planning for events with Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama in the state this week.
* ProgressNow New Mexico will also be involved in the protests, though is organizing a different protest. ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for NM Political Report, though has no input or control on this or any other story.