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Friday, December 19, 2014

Hundreds protest APD violence

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Anti-police brutality protesters march on Central Avenue near UNM on Saturday afternoon. This was the first major march since the Department of Justice determined, in April, that the Albuquerque Police Department has a habit of using excessive force.

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday afternoon to raise awareness of police brutality and honor its victims.

Sixty-five community members spent six weeks planning the roughly three-mile march that began at Roosevelt Park, according to organizer Danny Hernandez.

The goal was to inform city officials and the greater public of their cause, Hernandez said.

“We got out our message: that there are many people here in Albuquerque who are concerned about police brutality,” he said.

Renee Wolters, a peace studies professor, said she attended the event to express her discontent with recent police activity.

“Police brutality has gotten out of control,” Wolters said. “With all the Department of Justice work that has been done, the police have not responded and have kept killing people.Wolters has been an Albuquerque resident for 25 years, and throughout that time police brutality has been seemingly constant, she said. The police department goes through cycles of attempted reform and then returns to aggressive action, she said. Wolters said she believes the level of brutality is rising.

Max Montoya, a community member, said he was at Saturday’s demonstration to share his own experiences involving the Albuquerque Police Department. He has been involved in violent encounters with APD three times in the past five years and has twice been hospitalized as a result, but he said he still believes people need to speak out against injustice.

“Don’t be afraid to speak out,” Montoya said. “If anything happens, talk to people and get involved. And just be aware.”

Oscar Chavarria, a sophomore double major in sociology and communications, said APD needs to focus on other tactics before using force.

“I think the police have other ways of dealing with situations,” he said. “They could de-escalate situations, but instead things are escalated. I’m here to make a change happen.Chavarria was pleased by the turnout of the march, but said he hopes more students will get involved in future protests.

Zach Pavlik is assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. Contact him at assistant-news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @zachpavlik.