APD

Wow, we just had a tense bunch of days, each one filled with anticipation and impatience and consternation. From people worrying about how the election was going to play out, to some keeping an eye on potential violence, it would be an understatement to say that anxieties were high. It makes sense, 2020 has been mad anxious as my East Coast compatriots would say. But the electoral college digits that just wouldn’t move are not the only numbers the United States has to grapple with. Most of the country spent so much of their attention on the election, news of record- breaking new covid cases barely cut through the din. No matter who’s in charge, we’ve got a lot in front of us.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Clifton White and Selinda Guerrero organized Free Them All Fridays for months, speaking out against conditions and abuses in New Mexico prisons. White had spent years behind the walls, with Guerrero on the outside calling for prisoners’ rights. After the couple pulled together the first Black Lives Matter protest of 2020 in Albuquerque in late May, White was arrested on an administrative parole violation, which Guerrero says was retaliation for their protests. She and other demonstrators called for his release all summer long. He was returned to his family late last week. KUNM talked with the couple Monday, Nov. 2, in a park, with everyone wearing masks, which you might hear in the interview.

Bert Benally

Let’s take a breath. In episode 12, we try to fend off that wild pandemic election news cycle we’ve been living inside of, which can feel like a deluge of disorganized tragedies and failures. And we put the focus on what’s hanging in the balance these next couple of weeks as we cast our ballots.

Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons CC


In the wake of continued police violence, people across the country are calling for greater accountability for police officers. Some reformers are targeting a legal doctrine called qualified immunity that makes it nearly impossible for people to successfully sue officers for civil rights violations. New Mexico lawmakers are expected to take up the issue in January’s legislative session. State lawmakers on the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee discussed qualified immunity with experts during an interim meeting Monday

Blvck Astronaut

Sometimes history repeats itself. When host Khalil Ekulona talks to his African American friends who are parents, he says they express joy and sadness: Joy in watching their kids grow and discover the wonders of life. Sadness in having to repeat conversations with their children about growing up Black in America—the same conversations their parents had with them decades ago. Episode 4 is all about the journey to racial equality, and some of the factors to consider as we travel along the road.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Demonstrations against racism and police violence continue around the United States and here in New Mexico. KUNM’s team has been to nearly all of them in Albuquerque and reports that protesters are pretty much always peaceful. On Thursday, Aug. 6, organizers with the Black New Mexico Movement gathered Downtown to speak out against what they said is biased news coverage about them and an inadequate police response to militia threats.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In the last weeks of July, we saw high temperatures across the country. The streets heated up, and we’re not talking about the weather. We’re talking about federal forces sent to Portland, Chicago, Albuquerque and other cities. The arrival of these agents was met with public outcry and increased skepticism by lawmakers and residents alike. Others support the move. In episode 3, we take a look at what exactly is going on and what it means for our civil liberties and our democracy.

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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?

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The parents of an Albuquerque man who was shot Monday near the statue of colonizer Juan de Oñate in Old Town say Scott Williams, now hospitalized in stable condition, is a longtime activist for human rights and racial justice. Daniel and Denise Williams told KUNM's Hannah Colton they were on scene as tensions escalated; they say earlier they had attended a prayer gathering for the removal of the monument across the street. Scott’s father, Daniel, is a retired paramedic and says after hearing shots fired, he was headed to tend to the victim when he realized that it was his son. 

Nash Jones / KUNM

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office is not going to press charges against four teenagers who were detained on Thursday, May 28, after a Black Lives Matter protest in Albuquerque’s International District. SWAT officers took them into custody that night, saying they had fired a gun near the demonstration, an allegation the teens deny. Police did not charge them with anything, and the District Attorney's Office won’t pursue it, saying APD doesn’t have evidence to support a criminal case.

Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons CC

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.

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. 

Groups of armed civilians have turned up at Albuquerque Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the last week, alarming peaceful protesters, and saying they intend to protect private property as well as people and their right to peacefully protest. A man from the New Mexico Patriots says his group has coordinated with police about patrolling these demonstrations. Several Albuquerque Police officers met with a group of armed local MMA fighters ahead of a protest on Monday, June 1.

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.

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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.

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 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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM


Police violence takes many forms, and some communities in Albuquerque experience it much more than others. On Let's Talk New Mexico this week, we'll hear about how law enforcement has responded to Black Lives Matter protests over the last week in Albuquerque. How do you see police operating in your community? What needs to happen to end racist police violence in New Mexico? Join the conversation by emailing letstalk@kunm.org, or call in live at 277-5866.

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Episode 48 dives back into how the pandemic is affecting people experiencing homelessness. KUNM's Hannah Colton goes further into the story of the city breaking up encampments, despite the CDC advising against it during this time, and she brings us the perspective of Cypher Johnson, who's passing through Albuquerque and spending time on the streets. We talk to people who work with unsheltered folks around the state about what an outbreak at a shelter would mean for the whole community, about what needs to change right now—and what needs to change in the future. We also hear from the Albuquerque Police Department and the Las Cruces Police Department about how coronavirus has changed things for them philosophically and practically. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women nationwide. On Tuesday, the City of Albuquerque announced the creation of a new task force that will bring together advocates and representatives from the city, Bernalillo County and the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department to recommend how the city could spend money, make policy and coordinate between agencies to prevent domestic violence.

Wikimedia Commons via CC

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent 50 state police officers to Albuquerque this summer to fight escalating violent crime. Public records show there wasn’t much coordination between state police and Albuquerque police before they came.

New Mexico sent state police officers to patrol Albuquerque in May after a UNM athlete was shot and killed. Residents in some communities here raised concerns about over-policing and said their neighborhoods were being targeted. Officials said the state officers would be staying until around the Fourth of July. But as that exit date approaches next week, state police don’t have any idea about when they’ll be leaving.

David Holt via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A bill that would require universal background checks for almost all gun sales is a signature away from becoming law in New Mexico.

More than two-dozen sheriffs signed a letter opposing it, but the Albuquerque Police Department’s on board.

Three detectives are still working a combined 40 hours each week to solve the murders of nine woman and two teen girls whose remains were discovered on Albuquerque’s West Mesa in 2009.

KUNM spoke with Lt. Scott Norris, who took over the violent crimes section of the Albuquerque Police Department about a month ago and is now overseeing the investigation.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s no secret that sex workers often don’t trust law enforcement and don’t ask police for help after incidents of violence. Officers around the U.S. are themselves arrested for trafficking, raping and abusing people on the street. Here in New Mexico, those stories pop up, too. And people who do that kind of work here say there’s a feeling that it’s either not safe, or that police won’t respond well if they report they’ve been attacked or assaulted. That can mean serial offenders go unchecked.

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Albuquerque is the worst city in the U.S. when it comes to vehicle thefts and break-ins. But auto thefts and burglaries are each down now by almost one-third, according to a report released Sunday.

Public Domain Pictures via CC

Pedestrian fatalities are up all around the United States—and New Mexico is no exception. We’re on track to have one of the worst rates in the country, and one of the worst years we’ve had in a while. Seventy-eight people were killed this year, and that number doesn’t count December. Better Burque blogger Scot Key has been following the problem for years, and he talked with KUNM about the reality of these deaths.

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