Organizers hang "crime scene" tape
Sit-in in Mayor's office
ANSWER organizer Oscar Chavarria
APD's military response to the non-violent action
Statement issued by ANSWER New Mexico
Three weeks after the take-over of Albuquerque’s City Council chambers to protest police violence, community members and families of victims staged a near two hour sit-in at the Mayor’s office to protest Mayor Barry’s failure to use the authority of his office to take meaningful action against rampant police killings, violence and abuse.
Around 20 people walked into the Mayor’s office, put up yellow “crime scene” tape and sat on the floor chanting for officers involved in killings and incidents of brutality to be fired, arrested and jailed. Immediately after the sit-in began a press conference was called by the organizers, which took place 30 minutes later outside the building.
Organizers and participants included several family members of victims killed by APD, the ANSWER Coalition, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center Task Force on Public Safety and more.
The non-violent sit-in triggered an excessive, massive martial response. City Hall was immediately locked down. Police swarmed a perimeter that spanned several city blocks. The Albuquerque SWAT team then stormed into the building carrying assault rifles.
The sit-in ended with thirteen arrests. Most were charged with criminal trespassing, unlawful assembly and interfering with a public official or staff. One protestor, Professor David Correia, was unjustly charged with felony battery of an officer after a plain clothes officer attempted to shove him out of the Mayor’s suite.
The office of the ANSWER Coalition, which played a central role in planning and carrying-out the action, will be open all night providing support to those that were arrested, and will be a collection point for those that are able to donate bail money. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 505-268-2488.>
The sit-in comes just four days after an autopsy report confirmed what video evidence already proved; that Albuquerque police shot James Boyd, a homeless man who struggled with mental illness, in the back. Boyd’s killing was the straw that broke the camel’s back, sparking the three-month wave of action and organizing against the epidemic of abuse by APD and refusal of the politicians and courts to take action.
This militant and determined act of civil disobedience was covered by all Albuquerque news outlets, and calls are coming in from all over the United States.
At the press conference held outside the Mayor’s office, Celina Trujeque, an organizer with ANSWER New Mexico, told the press: “Enough is enough! We demand that Mayor Barry issue an immediate condemnation of the current lynch mob tactics and strategies of the APD. We demand that the Mayor call publicly for the arrest, trial, and incarceration of killer cops.
“Instead of wining and dining wealthy business executives, the Mayor must stand up for all our city, including those most vulnerable and most often victimized by brutal and violent cops, including homeless people, Black, Latino, Native people and those suffering from mental illness.”
Mike Gomez, father of Alan Gomez, who was shot in the back and killed by APD in 2011, said: “We need answers and the police chief and the mayor does not give them to us—they hide, they hire people to do their talking for them. Where was the Mayor for eight days after James Boyd was shot? He couldn’t face anybody because he’s a coward.”
Jewell Hall, President of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center Task Force on Public Safety, said in a statement “The problem is bigger than just the police department. Much of the problem with APD stems from decades of racism, oppression and violence toward poor people and communities of color.”
Mayor Berry has refused to use the authority of his political office to take any meaningful action to address the pattern of police violence. He has also refused to meet speak with the community at every turn.
The press conference was followed by a picket in solidarity with the sit-in. This protest was a reflection of the determination of the people to forward the movement to end police brutality in Albuquerque and to hold accountable the officers who committed these acts of violence.
For more information, or to get involved, call 505-268-2488.
Photos by Joleen Carrico