ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It was take two for Albuquerque City counselors. Last week’s meeting was canceled after protesters stormed the mayor’s office.
Monday evening, counselors held a special meeting, and the protesters returned.
Some of the protesters who were arrested last week are now calling themselves the “Burque 13.” They, along with others, staged across the street from Civic Plaza because they’re banned from the property, which includes the city council meeting.
“We felt it was important to let them know that they might ban us from the property, but we are not going away, for the 13 locked up, there’s 30 more to take their place,” said Jim Bowes, who was one of the people arrested during last week’s protest.
Several people said they want to see major changes in the Albuquerque Police Department. Those arrested said being banned from the whole building, is a violation of their freedom of speech.
Last week’s meeting was cancelled before it even started because city officials said they were worried about public safety.
People organized a sit-in in Mayor Richard Berry’s office, demanding to speak with him about reforms within the police department, but the mayor was out of town. Others called for the firing of APD’s Police Chief Gordon Eden.
In the end, 13 people were arrested, 12 of them charged with criminal trespass, and a UNM professor charged with felony battery on a police officer.
Monday afternoon, around 6 of them showed up to protest APD once again – this time from across the street.
Other protesters joined the group “in solidarity” with those who were arrested and now banned from Civic Plaza.
Starting in the afternoon, they yelled to Mayor Berry from the street – hoping their message would be heard on the 11th floor.
“As you can hear, they’re calling for the Mayor,” said protester Ernest Sturdevant. “The Mayor has consistently refused to meet with grassroots organizations despite his office’s propaganda.”
News 13 asked the Mayor’s office if he had any plans to meet with those protesters.
They said they’d only received one last-minute request today that they know of, and that he already had meetings scheduled during that time.
Cell phone video shows UNM Professor David Correia at sit-in
KRQE News 13 obtained cell phone video of the arrest of the UNM professor during last week’s sit-in at the mayor’s office.
The video goes on to show protester David Correia in a struggle with an officer, as the officer escorts him out of City Hall.
Correia has been charged with suspicion of battery on a police officer for allegedly shoving the officer in the chest.
News 13 spoke with Correia’s attorney Monday about the video. He said he does not see the violation that Correia is charged with.
“I didn’t see any battery on an officer, didn’t see the officer identifying himself, I didn’t see the officer falling backwards,” explained Larry Kronen, Correia’s Attorney. “Whoever wants to look at the video can look at it and reach their own conclusion.”
Last week, a metro court judge banned Correia from City Hall because of the incident. Correia has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.
His attorney has filed a motion to modify Correia’s conditions of release, to only restrict him from the 11th floor where the mayor’s office is located.
“We want that clarified because there’s city council meetings, county commission meetings, other business that he might have at city hall, he should be able to conduct that business,” said Kronen.
KRQE News 13 contacted APD about the cell phone video. They did not want to comment, but in an email said that Correia’s case is now at the District Attorney’s office for review.
Along with Correia, a dozen other protesters were also arrested during last week’s sit-in.
City Council Meeting
Last week’s agenda items were scheduled to be discussed at Monday’s meeting. That included a vote on whether to adopt new rules at city council meetings to try and keep the peace.
“We’ve given the public some flexibility where they could bring in their signs, they could stand there next to the speaker, but it’s become problematic, where it’s become a distraction and I think it’s really hurting the decorum of the council and we’re not able to conduct business,” explained City Council President, Ken Sanchez.
Some of those new rules could include no signs or props in meetings, and only one person addressing council at a time.
The city council meeting arrived on without any major interruptions, but one person was escorted out after he would not put down a flag.
The temporary rules were put in place after protesters took over a City Council meeting last month.
They also address things like only one person at the podium at a time, and people who are disruptive can be escorted out.
City Council was set to make the rules permanent.
“I think that in every situation, everyone was respectful,” said City Councilor Rey Garduno. “One person was removed, but I think that’s in any situation where there’s heightened concern.”
City Council deferred a vote about a new police oversight commission to give Councilors more time to work on the proposal.
They’re also putting off action on a possible new tax for mental health services until August.