University of New Mexico Health reached a major milestone in its fight to vaccinate the New Mexico community by administering its 100,000th vaccine dose at The Pit on April 28.

The basketball arena has been host to a mass vaccination site since January, with over 100 volunteers at work each day. 

The recipient of the 100,000th vaccine was a recent UNM graduate, Kiara Herzer, who received her second dose of the vaccine. 

“I am very surprised and honored as well, it’s just exciting ... I’m so excited by how many people have gotten their shots, so that’s awesome we are at 100,000 so far,” Herzer said.

On Monday, the United Graduate Workers of UNM held a digital rally to kick off “Rally for Recognition: A Week of Union Action” to pressure the University of New Mexico to recognize graduate students’ rights to unionize.

The union aims “to resolve long-standing issues over compensation, benefits, and job security and to improve education and research conditions.”

The organization is currently in hearings with the New Mexico Public Employees Labor Relations Board to win recognition as a union. According to the union website, UNM administration argues that grad students cannot be considered employees and thus are not protected under the Public Employee Bargaining Act. 

On Saturday night, close to 80 people gathered at the spot where Claude Trevino was fatally shot by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) in February to protest against police brutality.

This protest was called in light of the recent fatal shootings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo by police. Both of these killings sparked mass protesting in both Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois. The event was hosted by Millions for Prisoners, Albuquerque Save the Kids from incarceration and ABQ Mutual Aid.

The first speaker, a community member who went by Arianna, began the night by calling for a moment of silence to honor the victims of police brutality.

Within recent years, adult use of recreational marijuana has been legalized in 16 states, and the use of medical marijuana has been legalized in 19 states. Despite the sweeping shift of the drug’s legal status, some states have not expunged the records of people who have been convicted of marijuana charges.

Racial disparity plays a big role in arrests for marijuana. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Black people in New Mexico are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. Within Bernalillo County alone, a Black person was almost twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2018. This is compared to the nationwide average where Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, the highest disparity from 2010 - 2018.

According to Bernadine Hernandez, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and a member of both the Prison Divest New Mexico Coalition and the Fronteristxs Collective, private prisons thrive within New Mexico. Inmates, including people with marijuana charges, are most likely to be held at a private prison.

Medical Cannabis Research Fund leads cannabis studies at UNM

The team of researchers with the Medical Cannabis Research Fund (MCRF) at the University of New Mexico have continued their grassroots effort despite federal pushback, lack of funding and the coronavirus pandemic.

The team is made up of a variety of professors from different departments and backgrounds at UNM. Jacob Vigil, a professor of psychology, is the group’s director and started it alongside Sarah Stith, an assistant professor of economics and an investigator for the MCRF.

Research has proven difficult due to the federal restrictions, making it harder to publish findings, Vigil and Stith said. Additionally, physical research has currently been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team is still doing online research and remote assessments.

Derek Chauvin convicted of murder, manslaughter

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of George Floyd during his fatal arrest last year, was convicted of all charges, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20 and faces up to 40 years in prison, according to the Star Tribune.

The trial, one of the highest profile in recent history and Minnesota's first televised criminal case, began in March and stretched weeks into April. Jurors debated for more than 10 hours over the span of two days before reaching a verdict. Following the verdict, Judge Peter A. Cahill said that sentencing would be announced in eight weeks.

The prosecution, made up of a rotating team of assistant attorneys general and outside lawyers, sought to emphasize the widely-seen bystander video of Floyd’s death in their case against Chauvin.

Vigil for Daunte Wright held at UNM

On Monday night, close to 80 individuals gathered near the UNM bookstore to honor the life of Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by the Brooklyn Center Police Department (BCPD) in Minneapolis on April 11.

Daunte Wright was a 20-year-old Black man who was pulled over at a traffic stop and fatally shot by BCPD officer Kim Potter. Police say Wright was pulled over due to expired registration tags but Wrights’ mother said he told her on the phone it was due to an illegally hung air freshener. The department is now claiming it was accidental, and that Potter mistook her gun for her taser, according to Star Tribune. The officer and the police chief have now resigned.

Governor legalizes recreational marijuana statewide

On April 12, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation legalizing adult recreational cannabis use and authorizing the expungement of some cannabis convictions.

“This legislation is a major, major step forward for our state. Legalized adult-use cannabis is going to change the way we think about New Mexico for the better — our workforce, our economy, our future,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement released on Monday.

NM Notify helps track COVID exposures

On March 23, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced the launch of NM Notify, an exposure notification app that alerts individuals when they’ve been in close proximity to someone that’s tested positive for COVID-19.

Exposure notification apps are a form of technology-based contact tracing. Google and Apple worked together with public health departments across the country to create apps that will notify people who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID, even if they don’t know them, according to a Google video on the topic.

When an individual walks by someone else using the app, both devices will exchange the users’ randomly generated personal identification numbers via Bluetooth. Then, if someone tests positive for COVID and reports it in the app, any device that exchanged numbers in the last two weeks will receive a notification about potential exposure.

ABQ 'White Lives Matter' rally flops, dominated by counter-protesters

On Sunday, hundreds gathered at Civic Plaza in Downtown Albuquerque with plans to counter a “White Lives Matter” protest scheduled to take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center directly across from Civic Plaza.

Fight For Our Lives (FFOL), a self described non-violent student activist organization, arranged the event, which lasted about two hours and was attended by close to 120 people. No one directly affiliated with the Proud Boys attended the protest, despite a Facebook messenger screenshot that said the organization would arrive at 11 a.m.

“It’s really great to see this show of unity,” Zoey Craft, FFOL cofounder, said. “It’s great to see everyone coming together against this planned action that we know is going to further embolden white supremacists in the future.”

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