Killer Cops Enrage Public: Massive Protest in Albuquerque
Photo Credit: KRQE; Screenshot / YouTube.com
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
It’s unlikely there has ever been an Albuquerque City Council meeting like the one of Monday, April 7, 2014. With the council chambers jammed to the brim, strictly-by-the-book fire marshals forced people into an “overflow room” on the 9th floor of City Hall, where live video of the action below was transmitted. Outside, meanwhile, dozens of other citizens sat on the edge of Civic Plaza watching the gripping events on large screens.
The big draw? Public anger with not only the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), but local and state elected officials accused of covering up police violence and misdeeds as well.
In what could go down as a seminal moment in New Mexico political history, hundreds of people listened for hours as speaker after speaker told emotionally-charged stories of loved ones shot to death by APD officers, alleged beatings and taserings by the police, exiles from the Duke City to escape the boys and girls in blue, unresponsive public officials, and millions in taxpayer monies expended on excessive force and wrongful death lawsuits.
Social and economic troubles, red-baiting, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the specter of Egypt, and a militarized police force were interspersed into the mix. A circled image of Mayor Richard Berry, who was noticeably absent from the event, was displayed on video screens with a big “no” slash across his face. Calls for the sacking of Berry and new Police Chief Gorden Eden resonated with much of the audience.
Flashes of a large city on the verge of a political implosion teased the long night, as did glimpses of a possible renewal.
One thing is for certain: Politics in Albuquerque, and increasingly New Mexico as a whole, is not the same after March 16, the fateful day when APD officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez gunned down homeless camper James Boyd in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.
Sparking protests in Albuquerque and beyond, the police video of the shooting has turned Boyd into an internationally-known symbol who now even has a song composed in his name.
With a large photo of her late brother Alfred at her side, Tammy Redwine recalled the last words of her sibling before he was killed by APD bullets on March 25, less than two weeks after Boyd’s killing and ironically on the same evening a large protest was conducted in front of APD headquarters precisely against the Boyd and previous shootings.
The officers who shot Alfred Redwine, his sister demanded, “need to be tried like any other murderer.”
The city council session took place as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was preparing to release its findings of a 17-month investigation of civil rights violations and excessive force allegedly committed by APD officers. In an announcement just prior to the meeting, the DOJ said it will publicly release the findings on Thursday, April 10.
All eyes are on the DOJ, as an imminent possibility exists that a federal monitor will be named to run the APD. Many who turned out on April 8 endorse such a move.
Ken Ellis II, for instance, backs federal intervention. “The police can’t police themselves, so I’m hoping for an outside entity,” Ellis told FNS. “I think a DOJ take-over is warranted.”
Ellis’ son, Iraq war veteran Ken Ellis III, was shot to death by an APD officer during a 2010 encounter in which the younger Ellis, who suffered from PTSD, held a gun to his own head. The Ellis family recently won a multi-million judgment in a civil lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque.