By Jason Fuller:
The city of Albuquerque has yet again gained national and international attention for the wrong reason. Since 2010, those who took an oath to protect and serve the people of Albuquerque have failed to do so. The Albuquerque police are responsible for25 murders from 2010 till today. These deaths are cases of racial profiling, police intimidation and a system that trains officers to use lethal excessive force. This corruption and manipulation of power has created a bully culture abused by law enforcement in Albuquerque. The majority of police officers follow the law, however a few officers have placed themselves above the laws that they enforce daily.
The murder of James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man served as the breaking point.As a result, community activists took to the streets throughout the week of March 31st. Our Mayor, Richard Barry called these protests “shameful”. So, on Monday, April 8th, Albuquerque’s community would have the opportunity to discuss the reform needed in the Duke city. Generation Justice was there, and boy was it a sight to see.
There were approximately 30 police motorcycles parked outside Civic Plaza. As I walked downstairs to the chamber, I saw community members being turned away due to the crowd exceeding fire marshal capacity.Thankfully, I was able to get in the room with our Generation Justice media access. Inside were 20 police officers/fire marshal personnel. I found it ironic that a heavy law enforcement presence was needed as a result of APD’s unethical tactics. I said to myself, “maybe a heavy police turnout wouldn’t be necessary in the courthouse if APD didn’t use such excessive force on our communities.” With so much negativity surrounding this issue, there was a beacon of light shining downtown. This light is the vigor of community and our refusal to put up with injustice and police brutality.
As the meeting began, the city council announced that 150 people signed up to speak. Seeing our community come together to hold law enforcement and our political leaders accountable was moving. Too often community members and community leaders opinions’ are dismissed by politicians. After this community turnout, the presence of Albuquerque’s strong community was felt. Several people got up to tell personal stories of violent and intimidating encounters with APD. Subsequently, community organizations approached the podium and unloaded their disapproval with our city council. These testimonies, although painful, allowed our community to heal.
This meeting was powerful, but what did it accomplish? Since this city council meeting, The United States Department of Justice completed an audit of APD and determined that our police force “engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law.” Yet deaths by the hand of APD have increased over the past few weeks. Our community yearns for a day where they can look to law enforcement for help, rather than fear them.