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Albuquerque Residents Take Over City Council and Call for Arrest of Police Chief

Abq City Council

UPDATE, 5.10.14: After Monday's occupation of the city council, new rules were imposed, aimed at heading off any disturbance, prohibiting people from carrying signs or congregating around the speaker’s podium - but the demonstrators returned undeterred, returning to stand in silent protest at the podium. One of them was Michael Gomez, whose son was shot and killed by police three years ago. He stood silently after putting a picture of his son, Alan, on the projector. “You’re not worth addressing,” he told councilors before he was escorted out.

Dozens of protesters shut down Monday’s Albuquerque City Council meeting, taking over the area where councilors sit and trying to “arrest” the chief of police, according to reports.

“This is no longer your meeting, this is the people’s meeting,” protester David Correia, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, said into a commandeered microphone as shown in the KRQE video below. “We now serve a people’s warrant for arrest on Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden.”

There were at least 40 protesters, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The police chief and his deputy left the meeting quickly after protests began. After failing to regain control from the protesters, Council President Ken Sanchez adjourned the meeting. Some councillors, including Sanchez, stayed behind. He and other city councilors expressed frustration at the takeover, the Journal reported:

In an interview, Councilor Isaac Benton said the takeover was “disturbing.” The council had two City Charter amendments on the agenda for debate Monday, both centering on the Albuquerque Police Department, but didn’t get to either.

“It just seems like it’s been increasingly hard for us to even do our business, whether it’s about this or other matters,” Benton said. “If anything, it’s demoralizing for those of us on the council who are trying to do something about the problem.”

The city has been plagued by angry protests for weeks over what critics describe as an excessive use of deadly force by the police department. Those critiques were confirmed by a Justice Department report last month that found “a pattern or practice of use of excessive force” in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Most of the 20 fatal shootings involving an officer from 2009 to 2012 were unconstitutional, the report’s authors found.

“[O]fficers used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat, including individuals who posed a threat only to themselves or who were unarmed,” they wrote. “Officers also used deadly force in situations where the conduct of the officers heightened the danger and contributed to the need to use force.”

This piece was originally published by The Washington Post.

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