As an introduction to my work here in Albuquerque the past two weeks I’d like to direct PINAC readers to the following resources.
I highly recommend reading the history of what has been happening in Albuquerque since 2010 – when the Department of Justice began investigating the patterns of police abuses – until its recent issuance of a scathing report concluding that the APD has a history and pattern of excessive use of force and of deadly force – and concluded that more than half of the 20 deadly shootings they investigated between 2009 and 2012 were unjustified and unconstitutional (with many more since – but the DoJ has passed several of the more recent incidents to the FBI for potential federal prosecution – and did not comment in any detail, therefore, on these more recent shootings).
You’ll be able to look back to this as a guide to put into context some of the stories I am going to be sharing with you and some of the people I am going to be introducing you to in the upcoming posts.
Making matters worse it took the James Boyd murder (video below) by police for “unlawful camping” this March to expedite the DoJ’s findings being released. Yet despite the extreme lengths the DoJ went to criticize the Albuquerque department in the weeks that followed there have been four more fatal shootings that have been deemed highly questionable.
I will have more in upcoming reports from here on the ground in Albuquerque. But I encourage readers to familiar themselves with the links above to put what I have to present in perspective and context. There is a national problem but Albuquerque is an extreme outlier and it has taken the efforts of the victim’s families, beginning in 2010, and slowly joined by their neighbors over the years, to bring this issue to a boiling point. Why so little has been done so far is a serious question that I have been looking into as I have met the families of these victims, been embraced by the community, and have been offering my assistance helping them in their organizational efforts – particularly in terms of taking advantage of NM’s public records laws.
What is going to happen next – and will it be sufficient to solve this problem – is another question. After last week’s alleged “citizen takeover” (it was actually first “abandoned” – without following the rules – by the Council) of City Council and the overreactions by the Council at the meeting reconvened a few days later – where they attempted to deny opportunities for the families and their supporters to speak and forcefully removed the family members who chose to “speak” through their silence, a clearly protected first amendment “speech-act,” – it appeared that the situation was spiraling out of control.
Yet behind the scenes I have been getting signals that within the Albuquerque City Government there is growing dissension – and a number of officials are starting to see that the problem does not lie solely within the police department but in the dysfunctional nature of the City’s government as a whole. This has given some optimism to those who have been fighting this battle for years – even decades – that the increased national attention and public scrutiny of the past weeks may have been enough of a straw to “break the camel’s back.”
We will certainly see this Monday, at the next City Council meeting, if there is any visible change on the Council. I will be adding further reports as the weekend and into my stay through midway next week. But I encourage all to view the above links to become familiar with a major problem of national importance.