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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thirteen arrested at mayor's office sit-in

Thirteen people were arrested after a sit-in at the Albuquerque mayor’s office Monday evening.

One of them, David Correia, a UNM assistant professor for American Studies, was arrested for felony battery on a police officer.

Police were called to the mayor’s office in response to protesters who were holding a demonstration and refusing to leave, according to a statement from Janet Blair, an APD spokeswoman.

Benjamin George, a graduate student studying American Studies, said the protesters wanted to speak with the mayor about the Albuquerque Police Department.

“Our primary goal was to have a dialogue with the mayor about the lack of forthcoming change in the cities,” he said.

Correia was arrested for allegedly pushing a member of the mayor’s security detail, according to the APD release.

George said he disagreed with the arrests and called Correia’s arrest “overwhelmingly excessive.”
In March, protests ignited after the release of lapel footage showing the shooting of James Boyd, a homeless man camping in the Sandia Foothills.

In April, the Department of Justice released findings that concluded the APD engages in patterns of excessive use of force that violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Barbara Grothus, one of the people arrested, said she had three charges – criminal trespass, interfering with a public official or staff and unlawful assembly.

“The level of police force was just phenomenal. They came in with their usual overabundance of costumery and weapons. They had a great show of force for people who were basically just sitting on the ground,” she said.

The protests also caused City Council President Ken Sanchez to cancel the city council meeting that night due to “concerns for the safety of both the general public and staff,” according to the council’s website. Sanchez also wanted to comply with the State Open Meetings Act, which requires allowing people to attend the meeting. Citizens would not have been able to attend because the city council building was shut down due to the protests, according to the site.

Grothus and George said neither of them expected the council meeting to be cancelled.

“The idea that they had thought they had to close the entire building down and cancel the city council meeting because 12 people were going to get arrested on the 11th floor, it was ridiculous,” Grothus said.

Chloe Henson is the news editor for the Daily Lobo. Contact her at news@dailylobo.com or by Twitter @ChloeHenson5.