ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — They say it’s a New Mexico tradition, but one group of Albuquerque locals say police are trying to put the brakes on Sunday cruises down Central. Not only that, but this group claims Albuquerque Police are going against a city ordinance.
Drivers say it all started about three weeks ago, when Albuquerque Police started putting up barricades.
“You think of New Mexico, you think of green chile, red chile and lowriders,” said lowrider enthusiast Lorenzo Otero.
Otero and other enthusiasts say it is tradition.
“It’s always been part of New Mexico’s culture,” said Joshua Griego.
It’s why these hobbyists say they’re fighting back against what they call a violation of rights.
“Before, we pretty much had freedom, everybody was fine. Last three weeks, all of a sudden things are getting shut off,” said Otero.
Otero is referring to their weekly cruise down Central.
“It’s a social gathering. We’re just expressing ourselves and that’s part of being American,” he said.
It’s not just lowrider drivers who say they get something out of the cruises. Businesses in the area say they’ve boosted business and deterred crime.
“It’s like a security guard at night when we’re not here,” said Firestone Manager Estevan Padilla. “We used to have our windows broken out here. We used to get graffiti on them. Now that we have the lowrider community out here, they look out for our shop.”
Eric Martinez owns a tattoo shop and art gallery on Central. He says Sundays are usually pretty slow, but lowriders bring life to the area.
“It’s keeping some of these businesses open on Sundays and bringing more revenue on those days, as well,” said Martinez.
That being said, cruising has been an issue on Central in the past. More than a decade ago, councilors passed a city ordinance to curb the practice. Yet, according to the law, cruising is allowed before 8 p.m. on Sundays.
“If you want to bring out your cars and show them off, under this resolution you have the right, you have the right to do so,” said Councilor Ken Sanchez.
Councilor Sanchez showed up to support the cruises.
“I, myself, when I was younger, I had my GTO. I used to cruise up and down Central back then. We just had a great time. You went out and met friends, you had a good time to show off your vehicle and there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Sanchez.
Albuquerque Police Officer Simon Drobik says locals’ concerns are not falling on deaf ears. He says the barricades are nothing new. Officer Drobik says they go up for safety and are in no way intended to stop cruisers.
“We understand there’s a cruising community. Absolutely cruise. Have a great time, do your thing, but barricades will be going up at 8 o’clock for pedestrian safety,” said Drobik.
KRQE News 13 asked why the barricades went up before 8 p.m.
“It takes time to put the barricades up. It might not be on the dot at 8 o’clock. We’re going to try to get these barricades up as soon as we can,” said Officer Drobik.
Drobik says those barricades are to ensure both pedestrians and the cruising community feel safe.