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The KUNM news team's coverage of the 2020 legislative session and its impacts

YNMG & COVID: Demilitarize Defund Dismantle

Nash Jones
Police at a Black Lives Matter protest on Thursday, May 28, in the International District.

The country is grappling with practical steps for ending police brutality and racism in policing. We explore some local ideas in episode 74, from completely burning down the system to moderate reform to minor policy changes. Community and Black Lives Matter organizers, Albuquerque’s mayor and City Councilor Lan Sena, and activists who work with and against police weigh in on what the future of public safety could look like.

Frankie Grady is a community organizer who works for opportunities for African Americans in Albuquerque, especially fighting the school-to-prison pipeline. He helped organize the recent Black Lives Matter protests here. Grady says Albuquerque’s mayor was late to show up last week when residents were in the streets demanding change. He sees demilitarization and community policing as key components of reform. 

Arthur Bell is an organizer for Black Lives Matter and a father of two children. Bell says we have to reform the system he says is set up to repress brown and black people. He says now is the time to increase pressure on politicians to make changes for equity.

Mayor Tim Keller joins us to talk about how Albuquerque Policehave handled protests over previous days. He said that compared to other cities, APD handled the crowds well, though he's concerned about the use of chemical irritants to disperse crowds during the pandemic, since experts say they can increase the spread of coronavirus. Keller said the city has been working on police reform already, and should next work on providing better social services and interventions.  

Albuquerque City Councilor Lan Sena with Councilor Pat Davis introduced a bill to prevent APD from receiving military surplus equipment—though the department hasn't in recent years. Sena said policing, as a whole, is a racist system and that understanding the history of racism and policing is a first step to shaping policy that confronts racism.

Darryl Deloach is a police crisis intervention training actor and activist with Positive Policing. He yells at police for a living, he jokes, trying to escalate situations with them as a learning tool. Deloach says he has seen real change with officers’ ability to de-escalate situations in Albuquerque and is proud of both police and protesters’ behavior during BLM and anti-police brutality demonstrations. 

And a news update: 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today that breweries can reopen on Friday at half capacity on outdoor and patio seating areas, and indoor seating at 50 percent, starting Monday. The transmission rate is falling here, officials said.

There were 121 new confirmed cases today, the governor said, bringing the total to 9,367. And eight more people have died. The death toll stands at 420. 

People in prison for nonviolent offenses have still not been released, though COVID just took the life of the first N.M. state prisoner, and one-in-three inmates in the Otero County Prison are infected, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. One-quarter of the people behind the walls are there for nonviolent drug offenses, including marijuana possession, according to the article by Jeff Proctor.

The curve is flattening on the Navajo Nation, but Arizona is seeing a spike in cases, so Navajo officials are warning people to remain cautious. 

We're keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here's what we got from today.

Have you been discussing the police with friends and family? Do you have other ideas of what public safety could look like? What do you see as the keys to reform? We want to know. Share your thoughts by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.


Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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