YNMG & COVID: On This Day

Jun 17, 2020

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. 

YNMG Executive Producer Marisa Demarco describes the scene at the tense demonstration at the Juan de Oñate statue near the Albuquerque Museum on Monday, June 15, where a protester—a longtime friend of hers—was shot.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair discuss addressing public safety with a community focused response. They say there are other ways for public safety officers to engage that do not require militarized police. 

Jeff Proctor from the Santa Fe Reporter has been following the story of COVID-19 in New Mexico prisons. Proctor said an unknown number of people are at risk of contracting the coronavirus in prison because they are incarcerated for non-violent crimes like marijuana possession, an offense that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has lobbied to decriminalize. 

Albuquerque City Council President Pat Davis tells us it is not always appropriate for police to respond to an incident. He says there are duties Albuquerque Police are doing that could be better handled by other experts, like those who specialize in homelessness or social work.  

And here's today's news:

The Albuquerque Journal reports District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced Wednesday that Steven Ray Baca, who shot and critically injured a protester in Old Town Albuquerque during a demonstration to take down a statue of a Spanish conquistador there, is no longer facing shooting charges. Instead, Baca has been charged with unlawful carrying of a firearm and battery against several other protesters. The DA says charges could be refiled by the New Mexico State Police, who have taken the investigation over because of the Albuquerque Police Dept.’s handling of it. According to the Journal, Torrez called APD’s investigation “fundamentally” incomplete.

 

Meanwhile, the special legislative session begins in Santa Fe Thursday. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has released the agenda. In addition to central state spending matters amid a budgetary shortfall, the agenda includes requests for the legislature to take up issues of mandatory police body cams and a statewide police chokehold ban. The AP reports Leading GOP state lawmakers say they don’t plan block either of the two police reform measures.

 

State officials announced Wednesday that New Mexico has surpassed 10,000 coronavirus cases with 138 new cases reported, and 5 additional deaths related to COVID-19. That brings the total death toll in the state to 452.

 

We're keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here's what we got from today.

  • Check out Jeff Proctor’s article “It Makes No Sense” covering the rise of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico’s prisons and the Governor’s response. 

  • Read Rolling Stone magazine’s article on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s tactics for fighting coronavirus, including the fight for federal resources. 

Where you at the protest at the Albuquerque Museum. Doing OK? Do you have opinions on best ways to remake police departments? Do you agree or disagree with Pat Davis or Tim Keller on police reform? We want to know. Share your thoughts by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We may include them in a future episode.

*****

Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.