ABQ, UNM reacts to Mayor’s office protest

A UNM professor speaking at ABQ city council meeting

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – They came, they sat and they were arrested. A seemingly sudden protest at the mayor’s office landed 13 people behind bars and has the city talking.

Those who were arrested Monday are out of jail and at least one of them, a UNM professor, is facing a felony charge. His future with the university is still unclear as officials say they will keep an eye on the situation.

Depending on who you ask, some say this move hurts the protestors, while others say it helps their cause.

“This office is a crime scene! This is a crime scene!” protestors shouted Monday in Mayor Richard Berry’s office.

Angry protestors packed the 11th floor of City Hall. Among them was UNM Assistant Professor David Correia.

They are fed up with the Albuquerque Police Department and wanted to speak to Berry, but he was out of town.

In the end, 13 of them went to jail. 12 are facing charges of criminal trespassing. As for Correia, he’s charged with battery on peace officer, a felony.

A criminal complaint says he bumped his chest into an APD officer, causing that officer to lose his balance.

By Tuesday morning, all of those arrested were out of jail and the city is buzzing about what they did.

“I think it was definitely necessary,” Joanna Avery said.

Some say the move helped their cause.

“People need to be out voicing concerns so we can bring change,” Vijay Goswmi said.

For others though, they say it was silly and stupid.

“What’s the point of getting arrested? It didn’t get your point across,” Kelli Carlile said. “The mayor is one person. He can’t change the entire Albuquerque Police Department.”

Some can see the good and the bad.

“I think it’s hard to say whether they help or hurt, but I think it does continue to draw awareness,” Erin Callahan said.

The protest prompted a lockdown at City Hall, meaning no one could come or go. Consequently, the City Council meeting was canceled.

“These situations are very unfortunate because there are some very important issues that we were going to discuss last night that never got discussed,” City Council President Ken Sanchez said.

One of those key items is the future of the Police Oversight Commission.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, UNM released a statement about Correia’s arrest. They say they will keep an eye on the situation, that they don’t condone illegal activity and that Correia acted as a private citizen.

According to the university’s faculty handbook, if a professor commits a serious crime, they can be let go.

Correia has been teaching at UNM since 2008.

Monday’s sit-in was not the first time protesters disrupted an Albuquerque city council meeting.

Last month, dozens of people waved signs, yelled and even threw papers. At one point, they even tried to serve a fake arrest warrant to Chief Gorden Eden.

City councilors then canceled the meeting and protesters took over the chambers.

A special meeting was held a few days later, where four APD protestors remained silent during public comment. Security escorted them out and cited them for criminal trespass and banned them from City Hall for 90 days.

Then, on May 19th, there was a strange clash between City Council President Ken Sanchez and a protester over a U.S. flag. The protester eventually removed it.

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