Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

Ways to Connect

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In episode 82, we discuss how the question “How are you?” is part of documenting changing people and a changing globe. The answer reveals a lot about us. Are we good? We hear from a high school athlete who is worried about going back to a crowded campus, a woman who lost her mother to COVID-19, an anti-police brutality activist who sees focused protesters demanding positive local change, a community organizer whose family was torn apart after their activism, and an advocate who networks community groups to pay people to make masks. We know everyone out there is working hard in one way or another. So, how are you?  

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In episode 81, we check back for new developments on some of the impactful stories from YNMG from the past couple of months. What opportunities have been missed to make things better in this urgent time? Who's falling through the holes in the system? And what's still in front of us to do?

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We come back to life’s essentials like housing and education in episode 80, and the systemic problems that can easily slip past us if we’re not vigilant. As we continue to endure, it's easy to drop the ball on issues New Mexico has been battling for years. Today we hear from journalists from around the state on how the pandemic is affecting schools and teachers, the affordability of housing, and whether the corrections system is fulfilling its human rights obligations. 

The youngest stars are shown as red while more evolved stars are shown as blue.
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It’s a weird time. We’ve got a global pandemic, an uprising against racist police violence and a special legislative session dropped in the middle of it—the likes of which no one’s ever seen before. Maybe one that people still aren’t seeing because there have been so many access issues. In episode 79, we dig in to bring you what’s new and developing with the emergency legislative session. What bills have been passed, what is on the way and what is being held until January are just a few of the topics we cover. We talk with journalists from New Mexico PBS and the NM Political Report. We also hear from an advocate who is on the forefront of voting rights in tribal lands.

In episode 78 we discuss what’s happening in Santa Fe at the legislative special session. It’s a unique situation up there; COVID-19 precautions have led to a locked-in session with no opportunity for citizens to attend in person. But first, we hear from organizers of the Albuquerque Juneteenth celebration commemorating 155 years since the official end of slavery in Texas, with the entire United States following soon after. 

Arianna Sena / KUNM

In episode 77 we dive into the state’s special legislative session that started today. The primary reason for the emergency meeting is to address the unexpected budget shortfall brought on by COVID-19 and the decimation of oil and gas markets that provide much of New Mexico’s public funding.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In episode 76, we discuss criminal justice reform, from policing to prisons. We get a preview of the Albuquerque mayor and a city councilor plans to remake the public safety system. A criminal justice reporter tells us about COVID-19 in state prisons and reminds us that there is little race or ethnicity data to show us who is affected. But first, YNMG Executive Producer Marisa Demarco tells us what it was like to be at a protest this week where someone she knows was shot by a man trying to protect a statue of a genocidal Spanish conquistador. 

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For years, Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have been working on strategies so police officers aren’t the primary people responding to 911 mental health calls. After weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Albuquerque—and just days after police shot a man in crisis, hospitalizing him—Mayor Tim Keller announced today that the city will create a separate Community Safety Department to handle these kinds of call-outs by the end of the year—without taking funding from the police department. It’s unclear what the city will do to respond to the rest of the protesters’ demands around over-policing, and calls to defund and demilitarize the police.

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In episode 75, we're talking data privacy, surveillance, sophisticated bots, racially biased tech and misinformation on social media in the time of COVID, BLM and the upcoming election. We check in with researchers, privacy advocates and an artist/activist, who talk about how our data is valuable to corporations or governments that want to exploit their knowledge of us for policing, political or capitalistic reasons.

Nash Jones / KUNM


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.

Sue Schuurman

In episode 73, we talk to and about militia groups in New Mexico that have floated around the edges of demonstrations against racist police violence and white supremacy. Robert Whitmon of the American Patriots of New Mexico, one such group, says they've been working with police for years. Regardless of their claims of support for protesters, demonstrators say they raise tension and anxiety, and they're already concerned about state-sanctioned violence and the possibility of retribution for speaking out. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

 

Every day for over a week, masses of people in Albuquerque have showed up in public to condemn state violence against black people and call for systemic change. Though national narratives have characterized Black Lives Matter protests as volatile and prone to violence, Albuquerque saw thousands of people all week peacefully marching, mourning individuals killed by police, celebrating black culture and speaking out. The events this weekend had different organizers and drew different crowds. City administration made it harder to get to many of them, blocking access to most of the Downtown area with concrete barricades starting Friday.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The work of recognizing and confronting racism – in oneself, others, and the system – is difficult and uncomfortable. In episode 72, we talk about the bitter work we are all being asked to do in this time of uprising. We hear from the founder of an inclusive leadership organization, a UNM professor, a socialist community organizer in Albuquerque, a media consultant in Washington, D.C., and we have part two of Khalil’s conversation with his father.

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The militarization of local police forces has been on display as anti-riot squads have responded to Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the country. Monique Salhab of Albuquerque is a military veteran who fought in the Middle East. She now sits on the National Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace. She spoke with KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona about the rise in military-style tactics among police and what it feels like to fight for justice amid a pandemic.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

We are nearly halfway through the year of 2020, it is June and reality is forever changed. While learning to adjust to life during a global pandemic, the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers has given rise to protests globally. In Episode 71, we talk about what it takes to safely navigate a pandemic and the beginnings of a revolution. It’s a heavy lift. Today we talk with a military veteran, a few activists and educators, and host Khalil Ekulona’s dad to get a deeper perspective. 

Nash Jones / KUNM


Advocates are calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to release Clifton White, a black man in Albuquerque who was arrested on an administrative parole violation Monday. His wife Selinda Guerrero, a Black Lives Matter organizer, says his arrest law is retaliation for her and her husbands’ activism for prisoners’ rights and for organizing police watches in their community. White’s arrest came days after four teenagers were detained by Albuquerque police following the Black Lives Matter protest in the International District on Thursday, May 28. Guerrero told KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona APD took the teens away and left the teen’s car in the street, so her husband drove it home for safekeeping.

 

still from video by Shaun Griswold

Just blocks from a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Albuquerque on May 28, two black teenagers and two Hispanic teenagers were pulled from a car by Albuquerque police officers in riot gear. They say they were threatened by police— until some protestors arrived on the scene. The youth were taken into custody but released hours later without being charged. Police say they suspect them of firing shots near the protest, an allegation they deny. APD reports they recovered no weapons at the scene. KUNM's Khalil Ekulona spoke with 18-year-old Noah Tapia about his run-in with militarized officers.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Albuquerque residents have joined people around the world in protest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the media, peaceful demonstrations have been conflated with property damage done by smaller groups of people, playing into narratives that give rise to aggressive responses like what the Trump administration is pushing. In episode 70, we talk about how law enforcement responses to recent protests seem to differ for different groups. We speak with an organizer, a youth detained after a protest, Albuquerque Police Department leadership, and a longtime criminal justice reporter.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After thousands of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters dispersed on Sunday night, some people remained downtown in Albuquerque, driving their cars, playing music on their systems and displaying anti-police violence signs. Later, after they were gone too, 100 or 200 people remained, most not in vehicles, breaking windows and looting. Riot police showed up, and the Albuquerque Police Department says someone fired on them in front of the KiMo Theatre. No injuries have been reported. 

Shaun Griswold

Joining national protests against racist police violence, hundreds of people in Albuquerque participated in a Black Lives Matter car rally Thursday evening, May 28. Near the end of the rally, the Albuquerque Police Department deployed their riot teams, with military-grade equipment, and took into custody four teenagers of color after gunshots were fired nearby. They were not charged and were later released. Their detainment sparked a police altercation with demonstrators. The escalated police response to unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters stands in contrast to the lack of visible police presence at an anti-shutdown demonstration that included armed white protesters on Civic Plaza last month.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

Do you have faith in the systems? How has government response to the pandemic eroded or reinforced that for you? It seemed important back in what we collectively refer to as “normal times.” But what have public officials done to instill our faith? In Episode 69, we talk about the long list of pre-pandemic ills that plague us during this plague. We talk with the secretary of state about what it takes for politicians to keep voters invested and journalists about why there is a lack of faith—and whether it can be restored. 

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While many of us are focused on the demands of the pandemic, the primary election came up quick in New Mexico, and the general election is right around the corner. What is the consequence of doing nothing at all this election cycle? In episode 68, we take a look at the primary coming up on Tuesday, June 2, with a narrow focus on the state and local elections.

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Now that the state is slowly relaxing the shutdown orders, some are considering getting back to business. In episode 67 we talk with small business owners and those who support them about how they have to come up with innovative ways to sell to their customers, get their employees back, keep the lights on and keep everyone safe. We hear from restaurant owners, a statewide business incubator, a journalist and Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley.

Trevier Gonzalez

The past few weeks have seen a rise to anti-shutdown protests in many parts of the country. Some have observed the number of weapons at some of these protests, others have observed that most of the participants are white. That made us think, how does race factor into the conversations around re-opening? In episode 66, we talk with some of the louder voices in the state speaking out against New Mexico’s shutdown, and national anti-racism activist Tim Wise. And we hear from a guy who’s worked for years to grapple with his own privilege. These conversations might give us a window into what the future holds.

Vanessa Bowen

It's springtime, and love is in the air — but the virus is making things complicated. In episode 65, we explore the changes COVID has wrought for many kinds of love: for family, for friends, for oneself, for longtime spouses, and yes, for lovers. A relationship expert schools us on healthy communication, risk assessment, and creative ways to date safely. And New Mexicans, whether they're partnered, dating, or single, share how they're navigating new challenges around connection and intimacy in their stay-at-home lives.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Now that we are at the beginning of a small reopening, some people are taking it into their own hands to provide a little something special to their communities. In episode 64, we learn about a new online radio station designed to give live performers a platform to connect to their audience in a fresh way. We hear about how popular the Sunday cruise on the mother road has been since it's naturally socially distant but still all about community. Mobile drive-in movies are back. Plus, we dive into the symbolism of the many moths newly emerging in our city, sometimes feeling like a manifestation of our collective anxiety.

Hannah Colton/KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/21, 8a: Keeping our communities and public spaces clean is life-saving work as we fight viral spread. On this week's call-in show, we'll hear from those essential workers about the conditions they face during the pandemic. Do you work in sanitation or on a hospital cleaning crew? Do you clean homes or other businesses for a living? Are you a home health care worker? We want to hear from you about how things are going. Or do you have a special story or gratitude shoutout for someone who cleans the spaces you inhabit? Email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show.

YNMG & COVID: Hail Sanitation!

May 15, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

 

The streets are quieter. Restaurants and bars are empty. But the trash is still picked up each week, homes are still getting cleaned and hospitals are still sanitized for safety. On episode 63, we honor the bravery of domestic cleaners, hospital janitors, sanitation workers and home health workers. They're front-line workers who need more than just thanks—they need fair pay and proper protection during the pandemic.

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Hospital custodians and houskeeping staff say that even though they clean the COVID wards and are in the room with patients, they aren't given adequate personal protective equipment. Three people we spoke with said because it is commonly known among other hospital staff that the sanitation workers are more exposed to the virus, they are treated unfairly and subject to discrimination. 

U.S. Air Force photo by Rhett Isbell

 


State of New Mexico officials have said that no one should have to pay to get tested for COVID-19, but a nurse at UNM Hospitals received a $1500 bill for a nasal swab that she was required by her employer to get after traveling out of state. KUNM's Khalil Ekulona spoke with Marie Sparks about her experience, and the stress of navigating UNMH's bureaucracy to resolve the issue.

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