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 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.
SELINDA GUERRERO: So we had full intentions of finding the kids to make sure that they were OK. And so he took possession of the kids' property to protect it. When he got here, APD boxed him in, and they stole the car back from us. My husband was in handcuffs in a different car. They drove off with him the other way to divert our attention, circled the block with him a few times, and then released him. Now, when Monday evening and the next Black Lives Matter protest is about to engage, they've been following us and surveilling us all week. So we're on Gibson, they circle our vehicle, and they take Clifton to MDC, and they classify him as STG Revs, which means segregation, like a lockdown. And then the booking clerk says, "Why are you here? There's nothing in the system." And he told her "I don't even know why I'm here." They called the arresting officers back, who then hand wrote a warrant in front of my husband for curfew violation related to the night that the APD stole the car from us.
My husband, when he came home from prison, he had a night job and he never had the curfew parameter in his conditions of parole. So now we've learned they have remanufactured a new warrant, that now the allegation is that he was at a liquor store.
KUNM: Do you feel like this is retaliation?
GUERRERO: It's absolutely retaliation. He's had a positive interaction with his P.O. just on Wednesday [May 27], when his P.O. told him, "Keep doing what you're doing. You're doing fantastic." All positive reports. And then he starts organizing for Black Lives Matter on Thursday. And now all of a sudden, there's parole violations. Throughout this entire period, his P.O. hasn't had any contact with him to give him indications that he shouldn't have been doing any of these things.
KUNM: Clifton's incarcerated at a time where COVID-19 is spreading through prisons and jails and it's a huge concern, a non-violent parole violation during a time when officials are saying the goal is to get non-violent offenders out to prevent an outbreak. Have you gotten a chance to talk to him is he worried about getting the virus at all?
GUERRERO: He is. There's an outbreak in Torrance County right now in the county pod where they have the misdemeanor holding. Prisoners just this week had to riot in there to get them to get medical attention to a man in the pod who hadn't eaten for days. And this is happening behind the walls. And he knows this and he supports these efforts of Free Them All Friday. And so because of his work, he's being retaliated against. And this is what it looks like to be a political prisoner.
KUNM: People probably don't understand the history of policing, particularly in the International District. Last summer, we had the State Police Metro Surge operation targeting the area. Then there was the Sheriff's Department's crackdown right after that. A couple years before, it was an ATF sting. What does this all feel like for residents?
GUERRERO: All of these things happen every single day in our neighborhood. We have federal police right now active in the Southeast under relentless pursuit. They invested $71 million to attack the seven cities and we're one of the seven cities. We have state police, Bernalillo County sheriffs, who don't even wear lapels or dash cams. We have APD, and they activate federal CIs against us, paid informants setting us up. When somebody gets pulled over three times, two times on the way to the grocery store and one time on the way back, we are extremely over-policed.
KUNM: What do you want to see happen today or this week on these issues? What's the most what's the most pressing?
GUERRERO: If folks can keep making calls to the governor, she could release him this minute. She has the full authority because it's administrative. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, her phone number is 505-476-2200.
This is an excerpt from a longer interview that originally aired on our show Your N.M. Government. Catch it every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. on KUNM, or find it wherever you get your podcasts.
Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS and the Santa Fe Reporter.