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Albuquerque protesters vow more civil disobedience

  • Article by: RUSSELL CONTRERAS
  • Associated Press
  • May 9, 2014 - 3:40 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Attempts to silence activists over criticism of the Albuquerque police will only make them more aggressive in future protests, advocates promised a day after several demonstrators were removed from council chambers late Thursday.

The protesters were escorted out by police after they refused to speak at the podium and turned their backs to Albuquerque councilors because of new rule changes they say limit free speech.

David Correia, a protest organizer and University of New Mexico American studies professor, said he and others received citations ordering them not to return to City Hall for 90 days or risk arrest. "We don't believe they can do this," Correia said. "They can expect to see more civil disobedience in the future."

The move came after councilors adopted stricter rules on public comments following a rowdy meeting Monday where demonstrators packed the chambers, demanded that Police Chief Gorden Eden face a citizen's arrest and forced councilors to abruptly end the meeting.

The demonstrators want city officials to make immediate reforms to the police department, which has had 39 officer-involved shootings since 2010.

The U.S. Justice Department released a scathing report in April, revealing a pattern of excessive force by the Albuquerque Police Department and recommending the city become the latest municipality to adopt reforms for its police force.

Advocates also want police to release more lapel camera footage from recent shootings.

Protesters are meeting Saturday to decide their next steps, and may even risk arrest, Correia said.

Meanwhile, New Mexico State Police officers fatally shot a Las Vegas, New Mexico, city employee outside his home when he pointed a rifle at them, the State Police said.

Authorities said officers went to a Las Vegas-area home to check on 48-year-old Arcenio Lujan who reportedly was suicidal, and shot him when he walked out of his fenced yard and pointed the rifle at police "while aggressively approaching them."

New Mexico State Police has faced scrutiny for its own string of shootings. In October, an officer shot at a van full of children during a traffic stop near Taos.

© 2014 Star Tribune