Red and blue lights flashed over protestors from Fight for Our Lives, a gun reform activist group, as they blocked the entrance into the Embassy Suites Hotel on Woodward Drive Northeast, Sunday.
The activist group met at Martineztown-Santa Barbara Park before convening at the hotel to protest against the City of Albuquerque hosting the NRA National Police Shooting Championship.
Jonathon Alonzo, a highschool student who co-founded the group, said he believes the NRA should not have a place in local police departments.
“We don’t think that our taxpayer dollars should be going into (the shooting competition),” Alonzo said.
It was reported on Friday, Sept. 14 that Mayor Tim Keller said after this year the city will no longer host the competition — which requires at least 60 Albuquerque police officers and the use of other resources to facilitate the event.
“We have so much crime in our neighborhoods and our city alone; why should we lose almost a hundred officers for this week just to go to this event,” Alonzo said.
Dracy Brazen participated in the protest. She said although the interim Police Chief Mike Geier has been good at respecting civil rights, there is a problem within APD that promotes police violence.
“We not only want to shut down these future NRA shooting competitions, we don’t want our officers going to them and glorifying shooting and killing people, which has been a problem in our community for so long,” Brazen said.
About 30 people convened in the park, chanting slogans like, “APD give it a rest, NRA we call BS” before driving to the hotel. Protestors carried signs and banners that called for gun reform.
As soon as the crowd arrived in front of the hotel, demonstrators used their cars to block the Southeast hotel entrance. Some protestors created a barrier by tying caution tape to sticks and stretching it across the road. Other protestors held banners while some sat or stood on ladders, chanting through bull horns. Many protestors displayed tombstones with the name of a victim from gun violence, including one for James Boyd, a homeless man who was shot by APD in 2014.
One police officer arrived at the scene and made contact with the group, but the protestors did not move. About six other officers arrived thereafter, blocking southbound transit to Woodward Drive. No protestors were removed.
Taunts and jeers came from both sides as hotel guests amassed in front of the entrance about 30 yards away with APD officers standing close to the hotel’s guests.
Mike Osborne, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, was present at the protest as a legal observer.
“(We’re here) to see how this unfolds, I’m here as an observer,” Osborne said.
When asked if the activist group was breaking any laws, Osborne chuckled and declined to comment.
As the night progressed, the activist group led chants wanting to speak with the APD Chief of Police. Instead of the chief, a lieutenant arrived and spoke with Alonzo. The officer said that he would guarantee the group’s right to assemble, but said he can not promise a meeting with the police chief.
As the night grew darker and colder, participants began to leave, but for high school activist Josh Mendoza, he was in it for the long haul
“I’m not tired yet. I’m a little tired, but not there yet. I’m not ready to clear out,” Mendoza said.
The Daily Lobo could not obtain a comment from the hotel’s guests.
Anthony Jackson is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.