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Albuquerque Cops Injured as Anti-Trump Protests Turn Violent

Police threw smoke devices at crowds in Albuquerque on Tuesday after protests near a Donald Trump event turned violent, officials said.
Image: Riot police face off with a protester in Albuquerque
Riot police block off the Albuquerque Convention Center to anti-Trump protests following a rally and speech by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the convention center where the event was held, in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, May 24, 2016.Brennan Linsley / AP

Police threw smoke devices and used what appeared to be pepper spray on crowds in Albuquerque on Tuesday after protests near a Donald Trump event turned violent, officials said.

"Several" officers were injured after being hit by rocks, and at least one person was arrested, according to authorities.

At around 8 p.m., protesters opposed to the presumptive GOP nominee rushed past a barricade and officers in riot gear were called in to block the locked entrance of the venue where the rally was being held.

Protesters burned pro-Trump flags and signs and threw rocks and bottles during a brief but tense confrontation outside the Albuquerque Convention Center after Trump was finished speaking, and again later as police tried to move crowds out of the area.

Police said smoke devices were used against the crowds, not tear gas. Some kicked the devices back at officers.

Albuquerque police said on Twitter that there may have been damage to convention center windows by a pellet gun. Albuquerque police spokesman Officer Tanner Tixier said in an interview with MSNBC that police showed "an amazing amount of restraint."

Protesters took over intersections near the convention center and some drivers did "burnouts," spinning tires and filling the streets with smoke, as police in riot gear and officers on horses pushed the crowd along.

"The people of Albuquerque specifically do not want Donald Trump in our city,” one woman in the crowd told NBC News, listing off complaints not only about Trump, but also about poverty and what she called failing government.

"Donald Trump cannot come to our city after calling us rapists," she said. "Lies."

Trump campaign director of social media and senior adviser Dan Scavino Jr. on Twitter called protesters "thugs" and "punks" and said "They don't even know what they are 'protesting!!'"

Protesters interviewed by NBC News said they opposed Trump's controversial comments about immigration from Mexico and his stated plan to temporarily bar Muslims entering the United States, among other issues.

Demonstrations were mainly peaceful earlier in the evening. Some people played drums, others held signs and shouted slogans, and a group with a megaphone played an anti-Trump rap song. Some chanted “walk of shame!” as people entered the venue.

Inside, Trump was interrupted repeatedly during the early parts of his speech.

Responding to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s attacks on his past comments anticipating personal success from a housing market crash, Trump said that sentiment was to be expected from a businessman like himself.

“That’s what I’m supposed to do,” Trump said. “Hey, I feel badly for everybody, what am I gonna do? I’m in business, OK?”

Trump elaborated and explained his past comments by adding: "[I] never thought I was gonna run for office ... Who the hell ever thought I was gonna be running for political office before?"

Trump spoke hours before polls closed in Washington state GOP primary, where, running unopposed, Trump met expectations and won by a wide margin.

By 12:05 a.m. ET on Wednesday, NBC News put Trump 30 delegates away from the magic number of 1247. He picked up at least 36 of the 44 delegates up for grabs in Washington.

Protests outside Trump events are not uncommon. In Costa Mesa, California, in April crowds smashed windows on a cop car and tried to flip it over. In March, fistfights between protesters and Trump supporters prompted the real-estate mogul to cancel a planned speech in Chicago.