US Election 2016

US elections: Violent protests at Trump New Mexico rally

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Media captionPolice used pepper spray and smoke grenades as the protest turned violent

Demonstrators outside a Donald Trump rally in New Mexico have set fire to campaign merchandise and clashed with police.

Protesters threw burning T-shirts and plastic bottles at police outside the rally at a convention centre in Albuquerque.

Demonstrators held banners that read "Trump is Fascist" and "We've heard enough", and some waved a Mexican flag.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades at the crowd.

Protesters also interrupted Mr Trump's speech at the rally.

New Mexico is the most Hispanic state in the US, and Mr Trump has angered many with his comments on illegal immigration and his plan to build a border wall with Mexico.

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The protest had begun peacefully outside the Albuquerque Convention Center a few hours before the rally began.

Tensions rose as Trump supporters began to arrive at the centre, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Both sides started trading abuse, including racial insults, and protesters threw water and water bottles.

As the number of protesters swelled to more than 600, the demonstration turned violent.

Albuquerque police said bottles and rocks were thrown at officers and police horses, and several were injured. They were seen responding by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd.

Image copyright @ABQPOLICE

Mr Trump, speaking to a crowd of 4,000 people, was typically robust in his response to the protesters.

"How old is this kid?" he asked of one that disrupted the rally, adding: "Still wearing diapers."

To others, he said: "Go home to mommy."

University student Karla Molinar told the Associated Press she took part in disrupting his speech because she felt Mr Trump was attacking members of her family who were living in the country illegally.

She said she believed he is using them as scapegoats for the nation's problems.

Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America reporter

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Trump rallies have been marred by violent protests in the past
Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Trump sharply criticised the state's Republican governor

The biggest news out of Donald Trump's New Mexico rally wasn't the unrest outside the venue - we've seen such demonstrations before. It's the sharp tone the presumptive Republican nominee took toward the state's Republican governor, Susana Martinez.

"She's got to do a better job," he said, as he criticised the state's economy, the number of people on food stamps and her decision to allow Syrian refugees to resettle in New Mexico.

Ms Martinez had said she was "too busy" to attend the rally in Albuquerque - and Mr Trump obviously took note.

Mr Trump is now the Republican standard-bearer, but it seems he will not always be magnanimous in victory. Although polls show most Republicans rallying around the Trump banner, holdouts will be remembered and punished. Whether that's part of a strategy or a fit of pique doesn't really matter - with Mr Trump, it seems one and the same.

Following Mr Trump's statements, Ms Martinez's office issued a terse response: "The governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans."

Ms Martinez's name has often been mentioned as a possible Trump running mate who could help buoy his strikingly negative poll approval ratings with women and Hispanics.

I think we can cross her off the list.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Anti-Trump protesters made their views clear at his rally in Albuquerque
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption But there were still plenty of his supporters

This is not the first time violence has broken out at Mr Trump's rallies. He cancelled a gathering in Chicago in March after clashes between his supporters and opponents.

Albuquerque is the first stop of Mr Trump's tour of New Mexico, and his rally came on the same day he easily won the Republican presidential primary in Washington state.

His opponents have dropped out of the race, and he is now just a few votes short of securing the 1,237 delegates needed to officially become the Republican candidate for November's presidential election.