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Riot at Roosevelt Park - 50 Year Anniversary

AP Wire

Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of a Rebellion at Roosevelt Park. It began on June 13, 1971 after a young Chicano man was reportedly arrested for selling a joint to an undercover narcotics agent. As the situation escalated the Black Berets, a Chicano community organization, were called in.

The Berets tried to move people out of the park and speak with police, but were fired upon. This blew up into a riot fueled by decades of racism and police abuse against Albuquerque’s Chicano community. Eventually, the National Guard was brought in.

The violence took place just blocks from the KUNM offices and reporters at the scene gathered sound. As we mark this anniversary, KUNM volunteers Kent Paterson and Ali Liddel share audio from that day.

The tape, which is from the KUNM archives, features news coverage by former KUNM news personnel Bill Dix and Mike Colvin. Also featured are two Chicano movement activists, their exact identifies are unclear, as well as State Attorney General David Norvell and Lt. Governor Roberto Mondragon.

OUTRO: That was tape from the Roosevelt Park Riot that took place 50 years ago. La Raza Unida is organizing an anniversary teach-in this Sunday, June 13 at noon at Roosevelt Park. See https://www.facebook.com/events/2876186765955243/ for details.


SPEAKER: This latest off the UPI wire. Militant youths smashed windows and overturned cars today in a new outbreak in Albuquerque. Police fired shotguns and teargas to disperse the youth. About 200 youth went on a rampage after a rally in downtown park where state officials promised an investigation of police brutality. That of course is Roosevelt Park. The Park had been the scene of the initial outburst yesterday, after the rally the youth marched four blocks to another park, the University of New Mexico campus that of course is Yale Park. Now here is an excerpt from this afternoon's meeting at Roosevelt Park:

SPEAKER: I would like now to introduce the Attorney General Novell who has agreed to conduct an investigation of what they may call alleged but we know are actual acts of brutality, by the notorious Albuquerque Police Department.

SPEAKER: We are quite acutely aware of the problems or some other problems which youth have experienced here in Albuquerque. We are also quite aware of the fact that there has been no resolve of these problems. And in conference this morning with the chief of police and the governor, I can assure you today that because of those meetings. And because of your concern, there will be initiated an investigation from the state level.

SPEAKER: I would like to introduce the Lieutenant Governor Robert Mondragon, who is a politician, maybe he is on our side, maybe isn't, maybe more valid, we got to give him a chance anyway. I never let it be said that we are unfair. It's time that we work together. All of the people that are interested in seeing the reform that is necessary. There has not been the communication that had been needed from City Hall. There has not been in the last few decades… But we’re getting to it. And it's time that we get together we put out a concerted united effort. To see to it to get the communication that we need all together so that we won't have the police brutality that we have had in the past.

SPEAKER: This is what happened: back in December Las Gorras Negras (The Black Berets) confronted the City commission. Our people are being harassed, brutalized and murdered. The city commission could give a damn. So when we went into a community patrol, trying to talk to the pigs on an individual basis, trying to cut down on harassment and brutality by just our presence there. We were armed because one of our brothers had been murdered, Bobby Garcia.

Credit UPI

SPEAKER: Now here is Mike Colvin.

COLVIN: I was trying to find out what was happening at Roosevelt Park, and in my attempts to get down to that area. My car was stopped and I was searched by a patrol car containing six officers with high powered rifles and tear gas grenade launchers.

SPEAKER: And here is more my Colvin. He called in just recently:

COLVIN: I've just been to Roosevelt park where an angry crowd of some 200 Youths wielding Molotov cocktails and rocks are gathering. Traffic is streaming into the area, and units at this time, as I am speaking units of the National Guard are being deployed behind the Albuquerque public school annex buildings. Across the street from the park where two of those buildings were gutted by fire last night. As I arrived, units of National Guard troops were already deployed on top of the Albuquerque public school office, and surrounding it. Police are now coming into the area as well as many, many demonstrators.