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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Demonstrators demand 'spring cleaning' from DOJ

By Pilar Armstrong

"Don't procrastinate! Time to investigate!" shouted demonstrators, at an anti-police brutality rally. A group of around 25 activists from the community gathered in front of Albuquerque's City Hall building at 4:00 pm carrying signs of those slain by APD.

The police department has come under additional scrutiny after two killings in one week and the discovery of a "bounty system" in which officers are awarded $500 for each shooting. Officers also receive and additional three paid days off to "decompress". Ralph Arellanes, president of LULAC, is outraged.

"This isn't a timeshare. These are our families, lives, our communities. Until people are held accountable our community will be held hostage by this type of conduct", said Arellanes.

Mayor Richard Barry recently renounced the bounty system asking that APD union leaders put a stop to the practice. Union leaders had an emergency meeting but voted for continuing the bonuses. Ironically the president and vice-president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, Joey Sigala and Felipe Garcia, resigned and requested to be reassigned to other positions within the department. An emergency meeting will be held tomorrow, Thur., when an official statement will be made public.

Activists also criticized the popular media in lack of sufficient coverage and racial bias. The recent shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin garnered the immediate attention of the national media and the FBI.

"Why isn't the FBI here investigating? We have 23 dead!" exclaimed Silvia Fuentes, mother of a shooting victim, Lenny Fuentes.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Council is asking that the community attend the next City Council meeting on Mon., April, 2, 2012 and support an investigation of APD by the DOJ.

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