Trees along Central turned into ‘prisoners’ awaiting ART death sentence

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Someone has taken a unique approach to voice their opposition to trees being torn down to make way for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project.

This week, the trees in the median between Buena Vista and Yale on Central turned into ‘prisoners,’ with a black and white striped fabric around them, an inmate number, crime and sentence.

The trees are guilty of, “standing in wrong location,” “impeding progress,” “lack of representation by city council,” “loitering in median” and “blocking bulldozer.”

Their punishment is death, may it be ripped by the roots or mulched.

“It is pretty clever,” University of New Mexico Junior Alexis Fastle said.

“It’s clever rhetoric,” UNM Freshmen Michelle Burke said. “Obviously the person put a lot of thought into it and I think that they’re trying to give life and personification to the trees.”

The trees are facing death due to the ART project. In total, 425 trees will be torn down for ART. However, the City promises nearly 700 will either be protected or planted.

“I do think we shouldn’t just rip up trees when there’s no reason for it and I don’t know if the Albuquerque Rapid Transit is good enough reason,” Fastle said.

The stretch of construction from I-25 to just east of Washington is where the most trees will be ripped up: 213. But again, the city says it will put 226 in its place and save 107 in the area.

“I mean if we’re getting more trees in the end of it, then I guess we have to be opened minded,” Burke said.

But at Tech Repairz, one of the shops directly across from the ‘prisoner trees,’ the owner and his general manager said they will miss the trees once they’re gone.

The owner of Tech Repairz says he doesn’t know who’s behind the inmate outfits, but said he saw a woman do it on Monday.

A construction worker told KRQE News 13 workers took down the decorations when they first went up, but that they were replaced the next day. They’ve since given up on the battle. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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