Residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico are marching on the police department Saturday to demand retribution against the city’s mayor and police chief for their role in the police force’s documented “execution” of citizens.
The march comes after the Department of Justice slammed the Albuquerque Police Department for their frequent use of excessive and lethal force in a damning report released on Thursday.
Though, according to advocates, abuse by local law enforcement has been systemic for years, calls for increased scrutiny of the APD were amplified following the police shooting death of James Boyd, a homeless man suffering from mental illness, on March 16.
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Advocates welcomed the DOJ’s findings, saying the report was “spot on” in terms of identifying the root causes of this behavior, such as the “aggressive culture of the department” and the way in which “force is prioritized in training.”
However, according to David Correia, an organizer with the Task Force for Public Safety who has been working with families of victims of APD violence, the DOJ’s inclusion of Mayor Richard J. Berry and police chief Gorden Eden in the negotiations for the consent decree, which will dictate how those recommendations will be implemented, is a “non-starter” for the community groups.
The systemic deficiencies identified by the DOJ are “all produced and reinforced through leadership,” Correia told Common Dreams. “To say those people should be involved to us is ‘no go.’ We don’t want them to be a part of it.”
Further, Correia noted that the report did not go so far as to address some of the larger issues including laws around homelessness, access for people suffering from mental illness and access for veterans, which he says are also major contributors to the police violence in the city.
The Saturday evening protest will begin at 5 PM MST at Civic Plaza from where demonstrators will march to the APD. During another recent protest against the department, police assaulted demonstrators with tear gas.
Activists are calling for the removal of those officials, including Berry and Eden, who oversaw the frequent “execution” of citizens and for a federal monitor to be appointed. Correia said that they need to “interrupt the idea that this is somehow resolved,” now that the DOJ has released their report.
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