- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An advocacy group that sought to help organize an anti-Donald Trump protest in Albuquerque that later turned violent says its staffers are getting death threats.

The Albuquerque-based Southwest Organizing Project said this week the group’s staffers have been receiving racist emails and phone calls since the May 24 demonstration that resulted in thousands of dollars in damage and injured police officers.

In one profanity-laced phone call posted online by the group, an anonymous caller attacked the group for helping immigrants in the country illegally and threatened President Barack Obama.

Javier Benavidez, executive director of the group, said he has reported the harassment to the Albuquerque police and contacted a private security firm about safety measures for staff.

An Albuquerque police spokesman wrote in an email that the report has been forwarded to detectives.

Rioters threw rocks at officers and threw barricades outside the Albuquerque Trump rally before authorities sent smoke bombs and pepper spray at an unruly crowd, police said.

Following the protest, the Southwest Organizing Project came under scrutiny by Trump supporters who blamed the organization for the riot. Dereck Scott, 36, pointed to the Southwest Organizing Project for creating the environment that led to him and his wife, Ash, getting physically assaulted as they headed to the Trump rally.

Scott, who is a wheelchair, said he was hit with a bottle and punched by protesters. He released medical records to reporters showing he suffered a concussion.

At a press conference, Scott released still images from the attack and passed out photos and biographical information of Southwest Organizing Project staffers to reporters.

The advocacy group was one of many groups involved in organizing the protest.

Benavidez said the organization doesn’t condone violence and worked to keep the demonstration peaceful.

“We certainly don’t want to see anyone get hurt. That’s not what we’re about,” said Benavidez, who was removed from the Trump rally for interrupting his speech.

Authorities have said about 30 people out of roughly 1,000 protesters were responsible for the violence outside the rally for the GOP presidential hopeful.

Businesses have raised $12,000 in reward money to arrest riot suspects. Mayor Richard Berry also has added $10,000 to a reward fund.

Albuquerque police have made a handful of arrests and say they plan to make more soon.

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras.

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