Police protest stalls Albuquerque city business

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Another protest against Albuquerque police stalled City Council business as officials prepared to consider reforms involving the Police Department.

The regularly scheduled council meeting was canceled Monday after demonstrators stormed the office of Mayor Richard Berry and staged a sit-in.

Several business issues were sidetracked when officials opted to postpone the meeting. The measures included a vote on a tax increase on gross receipts, Albuquerque Business First reported (http://goo.gl/4qW5d7).

Business leaders were expected to speak in favor of the tax hike that would be used to fund programs for people with mental illness.

City officials said Albuquerque needed to do more to address that issue, especially after the Justice Department faulted police for the handling of deadly encounters with mentally ill people.

Council members also had been expected to discuss pending legislation to overhaul civilian oversight of Albuquerque police.

The city is negotiating with the Justice Department over police reforms after the federal agency issued a report criticizing the Albuquerque Police Department's use of force.

Using police tape and chanting "Berry is lying, the people are dying," demonstrators demanded on Monday to meet with the mayor to discuss police shootings and pending U.S. Justice Department reforms of the department.

Authorities say 13 demonstrators were arrested on trespassing charges. One protester was charged with battery on a peace officer, a felony. All the protesters were released Tuesday.

Berry was out of town at the time at a conference for mayors in New York City.

In the past three months, Albuquerque has seen a number of protests — including a violent one in March — organized by advocates of families of people shot by police. Last month, angry demonstrators crowded a City Council meeting and took over the chambers to protest police shootings.

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