Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Moar Uproar in 'Burque -- Tipping Point for APD?

I expected to hear more about the police-abuse-and-murder protests in Albuquerque yesterday, but there wasn't much in the news. There was a meeting at the Peace and Justice Center near the University, however, at which further strategies were discussed.

Nevertheless, the news yesterday was dominated by the protests on Sunday, and the reporting struck me as confused at best. The problem, of course, is that local media is everywhere deeply tied into the police and power structure, so it's difficult to report on matters affecting the police without falling into the typical support-the-police (whatever they do) mode.

The recent police killings of civilians in Albuquerque, however, have made that position less and less tenable. The killing of James Boyd was shocking to the conscience. There was no reason to shoot or wound him, let alone to kill him, and the release of the helmet-cam video made that abundantly clear. In the case of the shooting death of Andy Redwine on March 24th, the situation was less clear. According to police, Redwine was armed and firing a revolver at the police, but witnesses are divided on whether that is true or not. According to the one video which shows the shooting, Redwine was talking on the phone at the time he was shot, his other arm was down by his side, and it is impossible to tell whether he was armed or not.

Police have been known to lie, after all, and some of the witnesses claim that Redwine was not armed when he was shot and that he never fired at the police or anyone else during the confrontation. His family, is devastated.

The Boyd killing touched off a firestorm of controversy. The new police chief has a habit of inflaming the situation, at first calling the killing "justified," then backing off that assessment, then just yesterday, referring to the protesters as a "mob." The mayor has tried to maintain a sense of proportion and dignity, expressing how "appalling" he felt the killing of Boyd was, but reserving judgement on whether the killing was "justified" until there is a full "investigation." The Governor has thrown in her two cents, turning over evidence to the Justice Department.

V. B. Price is a long-time commentator on things New Mexico and particularly things 'Burque. He wrote a blog-post yesterday that sums up the situation rather well. I'll quote a bit from it:

Trained to See Some People as Scum that ain’t Worth the Trouble

If James Boyd had been a bear they would have shot him with a tranquilizer dart.
But Boyd was a different kind of animal. The police had been trained, it appears, to see him as a piece of trash, as vermin, as scum not worth the trouble to subdue.
And it’s all on video. A new snuff film from the Albuquerque Police Department. A minute or two of what the poet C.R. Lloyd called “pornographias del muerto.”
Watching it can be a nightmare experience, a peep hole into the Devil’s World.  I felt obliged to view it numerous times, so I could be as accurate as possible writing about it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
Such horrendous, gratuitous violence. It could have been a training film for how to be cowardly bullies.
It comes down to this. Six or so Albuquerque police officers and one 38 year old homeless hobo in the foothills of the Sandias. He had a history. Police said they thought he was a paranoid schizophrenic. He is said to have been obnoxious with the police before and once he reportedly broke the nose of a female police officer. And now he was disturbing the neighbors by camping illegally in the foothills.
And that’s what it takes to get unofficially executed in Albuquerque. No death row here. We prefer instant injustice.
It's true about bears in the Sandias. They're tranquilized and hustled off to new quarters. Not homeless men, though.

Not them.

Not yet.

But there is movement to end the official summary execution scheme. Additional mental health provisions are among the current suggestions.

Abolishing APD may be necessary, however.


  1. Additional mental health provisions for the poor, the destitute and downtrodden huddled masses, or for the police? Guess which ones I think need new mental health guidelines.

    Do I hear a cop saying "boo-yah" on the video after they shoot this man?

    I think Amy Goodman did a piece on the protests on her show yesterday, but I haven't a link for you and have not listened to the show yet myself.

    In state after state, they are making it illegal to be homeless. How this makes any sense is beyond me. But then I am walking around pretty much dazed and confused these days anyway.

    - T

    1. Yes, you do hear the tell-tale "Boo-yah!" in the video, something even a part of the local vet community is horrified at.

      There is some sort of grass-roots effort underway to provide and expand public mental health provisions in NM. James Boyd was in and out of the one state mental institution fairly often, and there were practically no accessible community facilities.

      I saw Amy's piece yesterday. She slapped down the AP reporter who seemed to be explaining the shooting -- if not justifying it -- by saying that the standoff with Boyd in the foothills had gone on for three hours and he had repeatedly threatened the officers -- who were holding him at bay with their firearms and dogs and explosives and shit. The AP reporter had seen the extended video of the standoff. It's clear, he said, that Boyd threatens the officers. All the public has seen is the last couple of minutes, he said, and so they don't have the complete picture.

      She said, [paraphrase] "It's the last few seconds that matter, isn't it? The man was surrendering and now he's dead. Shot six times. While he was surrendering."

      The AP man had nothing to say.

      Amy had obviously not been told about the more recent shootings and slayings by police in Albuquerque, each of them questionable/horrific.

      This has got to stop.

      Boyd was confronted because someone who lives up there -- obviously a fancy person, as houses are not cheap in the foothills, the view being breathtaking and all -- called 911 repeatedly about "someone camping" in his "backyard" and how this person was acting strange. So it wasn't simply because he was homeless. He was... crazy too. That will get you summarily executed just about anywhere these days. (Fullerton)...

      There's a candlelight vigil tonight at the spot where Boyd was shot. We have to be in Santa Fe, so we'll miss it. But I have a feeling it will be pretty major. Will report more once I know more.