Police shootings: Albuquerque council meets

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 9, 2014 at 1:19 am •  Published: May 9, 2014
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Security officials escorted some people from an Albuquerque City Council meeting Thursday night amid new rules designed to avoid the sort of angry confrontation that broke out earlier this week over a spate of deadly police shootings.

The special meeting started quietly with the council president spelling out the rules for the night. Those included no signs, props or any other campaign material.

The Albuquerque Police Department has been under scrutiny over 39 police shootings in the city since 2010, prompting a harsh report earlier this year from the U.S. Justice Department that highlighted excessive use of force. Protests this week followed a weekend shooting that killed an armed man after a SWAT standoff.

Public comment was also limited to the legislation the council was prepared to consider, including measures near the bottom of the agenda that would affect the hiring of the police chief.

"If we don't have order tonight, I will clear the room. Please be respectful," Council President Ken Sanchez said.

Several people decided to take a stand by turning their backs to the council members and refusing to speak during their turns at the podium. Before being escorted out of the chambers by security, they raised their fists, prompting supporters in the crowd to do the same.

Some citations were issued Thursday night for criminal trespassing but it was immediately clear how many. Those who received the citations will not be allowed to return to City Council for 90 days.

Sanchez and Councilor Rey Garduno said that was not an intention of the rules and they would look into the matter.

On Monday, demonstrators took over the regularly scheduled council meeting, chanting for the ouster of the police chief, shouting at council members and causing so much disruption that the panel's president adjourned the meeting.

Protesters also tried to serve a "people's arrest warrant" on Police Chief Gorden Eden.

Activist Andres Valdez called Monday's protest a "coup d'etat" that was needed because councilors had refused to listen to citizen complaints about the police.