Protester speaks, councilors consider new procedure

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque City Councilors are eyeing changes to city council rule enforcement while the man who helped start a major protest on the council floor is talking about why he did it.

City councilors called off their meeting Monday night after dozens of protesters refused to leave the podium during public comment.

Tuesday, KRQE News 13 spoke to city councilors who say they’re thinking of increasing security and kicking people out of meetings if they get rowdy.

Meanwhile, the UNM professor who played a large role in the protest’s beginnings, David Correia is defending his actions. Correia says he and other protesters had to take over to send a strong message that councilors aren’t working fast enough to change the Albuquerque Police Department.

But councilors say it was uncalled for.

Correia’s role was paramount in the council chamber takeover as he helped lead “no justice, no peace” chants, public discussion and more.

“The people’s city councilors just voted unanimously no confidence in Mayor Berry,” said Correia during the protest.

In an interview with News 13 Tuesday, Correia made no apologies for the actions.

“If people want to suggest that that’s disorderly, then welcome to democracy,” said Correia.

Correia says last night’s takeover had to happen because he claims councilors aren’t acting fast enough to change problems at APD.

“Since the DOJ report has come out, almost every criticism that they DOJ levied against the Albuquerque Police Department continues to play out,” said Correia.

“This hopefully is the thing that puts them on notice that they better do the work.”

But Albuquerque City Council President Ken Sanchez says the interruption didn’t help get any work done.

“I think that each and every council member is disappointed,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez met with councilors and staff Tuesday to talk about new procedures they hope to have in place Thursday for the next city council meeting. Sanchez says he wants to make sure Monday’s disorderly conduct chambers doesn’t happen again.

“There could have been arrests last night,” said Sanchez.

“I think we’ve been very patient as a council and we’ve allowed the public to give their input,” said Sanchez.

Councilor Klarissa Peña agrees. Peña tried to diffuse protesters actions last night. At one point she pleaded with the crowd to sit down and talk with the remaining councilors.

“I thought that it was important to show, pay them the respect,” said Peña.

But most of her ideas went unnoticed by the masses as protesters continued, including Correia, who helped lead the charge.

Peña hopes next time protesters will have some solid ideas for change at APD.

“If they would have come with some suggestions, some concrete suggestions and we would have been more than happy to listen to those,” said Peña.

Councilors were supposed to take up two APD related bills on Monday night, one of which would have required city council to approve the hiring of a police chief. They didn’t get that done though, so councilors have called a special meeting for Thursday.

Correia says he and fellow protesters do not plan on interrupting that meeting.

Correia is an assistant professor at UNM, which released the following statement Tuesday:

“The opinions and statements expressed by David Correia in this public meeting and on social media are his own. They do not reflect any official views of the University of New Mexico or its Board of Regents. He is speaking as a private citizen.” –Dianne Anderson, UNM Communications Director

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