On Friday night, June 5, Amelia Brown says they and their friend were shot at by two unidentified men outside Presbyterian Hospital on Central at 9:15 p.m. Brown helped coordinate supplies for a Black Lives Matter protest on June 1 in Albuquerque, and has attended several marches in the last couple weeks. On Friday evening, they were walking to a vigil at UNM, from the site of another demonstration at Civic Plaza downtown that they say had ended before they arrived. Brown says they don’t know who shot at them, but that they are one of several local black activists being targeted and surveilled by both police and groups of armed civilians in recent days.
Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said in an email that police received Brown’s 911 call about shots fired from a car and dispatched a “Be on the lookout” alert. Gallegos did not specify if the police know who the shooters are, if there have been any arrests, or whether they’re investigating the shooting.
KUNM: Can you tell me what happened?
AMELIA BROWN: We were almost past the main hospital [Presbyterian] and in the secondary parking lot when I heard popping noises, right? And I was like, “What is that? What is that noise?” And suddenly I realized what it was. And it was gunshots. And I was like, “Oh my god,” and they were super close. I froze for a second because I just had to assess where the sound was. And then I saw this dark blue Volkswagen sedan driving down, and then I saw the muzzle fire. And we were inches away from that bullet, me and her hit the ground. And then they shot around us again, and we ran through the parking lot all the way back to Silver Ave., but we still kept hearing gunshots, because we're pretty sure that there was a secondary person coming down the road.
KUNM: And do you think they were police?
BROWN: No, they were not police.
KUNM: Do you think they were the militia guys?
BROWN: Earlier in the day, a friend of mine had given me some intel that the militiamen were going to show up at the rally downtown at Civic Plaza and that they are going to make their presence known. But you know, I couldn't really see them very well. At the same time, it really made me start thinking “Wow, this is like a real threat to our safety right now.” Surprisingly in that split second, I managed to see enough details to kind of describe what this person or people — there were two people — looked like in the car, but at the same time, I was really scared because I thought we were about to get hit.
KUNM: Were they men? Do you think they were rubber bullets or real bullets?
BROWN: They were definitely a real bullets. Living in Albuquerque you can definitely tell the fireworks from the bullets and the way it rang through the air, uff, I thought we were gonna be hit. But it was definitely men and they could have been white or Hispanic, but I'm pretty sure they were white.
KUNM: Have other organizers been surveilled or targeted?
Amelia: Yeah. Several organizers that I know have definitely had their fair share of death threats and targeting.
KUNM: You said in our Facebook messages that this was “eye opening,” can you expand on that?
BROWN: I understand that the world is extremely dangerous. This is not a safe place. There's danger lurking around every corner, but you don't have to see the horror of it all the time. In 2017 there was a UNM grad student that was shot on Stanford and Central. His name was Juan Carlos. And he was a victim of a random drive-by and he was a good friend of mine. He was very much a good friend of other people that I’ve associated with, and it really broke my best friend, and he never recovered from that.
And it's just scary that people like would just want to have senseless violence like that. Because it’s horrifying to know that I can be a victim of senseless violence because of what I say, which is righteous. And what I do. It's just marching in the street with the people in New Mexico, and I could just be snuffed out like a candlelight.
KUNM: Have the police followed up with you about anything?
CORRECTION Monday, 12pm: The headline for this story has been corrected to reflect that Amelia Brown coordinated supplies for a Black Lives Matter event in Albuquerque on June 1.
We have also clarified that Brown was walking from the site of a protest in Downtown Albuquerque on Friday night; Brown said they arrived at Civic Plaza after that earlier demonstration had ended, and then walked up Central to another BLM event taking place at UNM. We also changed the headline to reference the location of the shooting rather than the Civic Plaza event. And we changed the header image for the same reason.