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No More Normal: The Real Crime

Lonnie Anderson
Breonna Taylor may be the first victim of police violence to be mentioned by name in a presidential debate. Crime, of course, has been much discussed by the candidates behind those podiums these last decades.

Attack ads and contemporary political rhetoric about crime have a disturbing campaign ancestor: The Willie Horton ad that may have cost Michael Dukakis the presidential election in 1988. It relied on racism for its efficacy, and it ushered in an era of so-called "tough-on-crime" laws and posturing that nearly broke criminal legal systems, like the one in Albuquerque. Executive Producer and longtime criminal justice reporter Marisa Demarco navigates in Episode 13 how racist, fear-based electioneering warped the country's approach to crime. That continues to this day, favoring quick vengeance over long-term solutions that might have a real impact on crime rates. It's an addictive cycle: These methods, in fact, might be a big part of creating the problem candidates are promising to solve with them when they're counting on fear to salvage their flagging campaigns. 


Why did host Khalil Ekulona and Demarco decide to give an episode to this? Because they don’t want there to be crime, either. They want to see the number of murders drop to zero. And Demarco's tired of watching racist campaign-trail rhetoric about crime turn into policies that don’t seem to work, that ruin lives, that wreck generations. We can’t say for sure what will work, but we’ve got a couple of clues, outlined in this episode. 

Credit Lonnie Anderson

  And why now? One, because crime fears underscore existing racism and breed new racism that infests all corners of our worlds, creating this situation where people who aren’t white are dying of coronavirus at rates higher than everyone else. Two, because crime fears were just used by President Trump to deploy federal agents to violate people’s fundamental rights around the country. And three, because there’s a bigger threat out there than crime if you're looking at the numbers. It’s coronavirus. We need our focus on saving ourselves and saving each other now more than ever.



  • Gene Grant, host of New Mexico In Focus on our partner station New Mexico PBS
  • Elise Kaplan, crime reporter for the Albuquerque Journal
  • Jeff Proctor, longtime criminal justice reporter and contributing editor for the Santa Fe Reporter




Next Week: We turn our attention to media literacy and the election. Are you following a bot on social media? How can you tell if the information you’re reading is factual? And what’s the deal with the Facebook and Twitter political ad policies? Now is not the time to let the truth get hacked.

If you want to hear any of the past episodes of NoMoNo, find the show here on KUNM's site, look us op on SpotifyApple Podcasts … everywhere that podcasts are. 
Special thanks to:

  • Jeff Proctor from the Santa Fe Reporter and Elise Kaplan from the Albuquerque Journal for the many behind-the-scenes conversations over the years that helped form the foundation of this episode.

  • We used lots of clips from KUNM News team’s coverage on this one, and we’re always grateful to be on this crew.

  • Jazztone the Producer, Cheo, Dahm Life and Oh Lawd Records for providing music for the show. Khaki, Pope Yesyesyall, and Bigawatt produced some of the show’s themes.

  • Artist Lonnie Anderson for providing the imagery for the online representation of this week’s episode.

No More Normal is brought to you by Your New Mexico Government, a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage comes from the New Mexico Local News Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners like you, with support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation. 


Credit Lonnie Anderson

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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