Councilor jumps into action during, after protest

(ALBUQUERQUE) – A chaotic protest against city police has Albuquerque city councilors working on a new way for the community to be heard  One councilor actually jumped into action last night when things got rocky.

Most city councilors watched the protest grow online or during news coverage. But for Councilor Rey Garduño things hit close to home.

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The protest ended near Garduño’s district.

“When it got to Central and Girard you could just feel the tension,” Garduño said.

That’s where protestors were standing toe-to-toe with officers in riot gear. Garduño said tensions were at a boiling point and that is when he said protest organizers asked him to try and calm the situation.

That’s when he grabbed a bullhorn and started telling the crowd to move onto the sidewalk.

“Again, get on the sidewalk. Nothing is bound to come out of this. Get on the sidewalk!” Garduño.

Garduño said most of the crowd made their way off the streets. For a moment, Garduño thought everything would resolve peacefully.

“It was not, oh, I’m a city councilor so I can get in front of these folks and convince them of anything – just reaction to make sure no one got hurt,” Garduño said.

However, when the protest entered its 9th hour people began vandalizing buildings. Soon after, cops would deploy tear gas.

Garduño isn’t defending those that broke the law. However, he said he understood why the protest took place.

“I certainly do not blame any of the protestors who feel like they have not been listened to,” Garduno said.

Councilors, KRQE spoke with, said it was the council who called on the Department of Justice to investigate APD and had a task force review the commission that police’s the police.

Councilor Dan Lewis also called for former Chief Ray Schultz to step down. However, they said this protest showed more needs to be done.

“For several years we’ve been concerned and doing all that we can do and more,” Lewis said. “I’m not sure we’ve done all we can do but we want to,” Lewis said.

Garduño said he’s already talked to some city councilors about adding a public meeting specifically about the APD shootings. At this time, anyone can attend council meetings but are only given two minutes to talk. Garduño said that’s not enough time for this topic.

The council is currently writing up the new recommendations by the oversight task force into a new city ordinance. The council will have to approve them before any changes reach the police department.

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