Albuquerque police increased traffic stops by 34 percent this year compared to last year, according to data from the city. One local political group is concerned about that kind of contact with law enforcement, especially for people of color. That’s why they're offering free brake-light repairs this weekend in the International District, a low-income and racially diverse area of Albuquerque known for drawing a lot of police activity.
Julian Trujillo, the at-large administrator with the Albuquerque Democratic Socialists of America, said a DSA chapter out east started offering brake-light clinics in response to the 2016 police killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Minnesota.
Even if a traffic stop doesn’t end up being violent, Trujillo said there can be serious consequences from unwanted contact with law enforcement.
“It’s also helping people avoid unnecessary court dates, unnecessary traffic fines," Trujillo explained. "We want to try to let these people avoid interactions with the system.”
A Vox analysis of FBI data found that officers kill a disproportionate number of black people in police agencies across the country. Neither the Albuquerque Police Department nor the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court keep track of race or ethnicity in their case files, so it's hard to know whether local policing is racially biased.
Albuquerque DSA members will be fixing brake lights, free of charge, on Sunday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 8016 Zuni Road SE. Trujillo said each repair should take less than 20 minutes, and no appointment is necessary.
Anyone is welcome, and Trujillo said this event is not about the DSA pushing their political views. "This is a small thing that we do in the community," he said. "We've got other means of doing political outreach, but this is just us trying to keep people safe at the end of the day."
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