Hundreds Protest Albuquerque's Trigger-Happy Police Department
After the shooting of a mentally ill homeless man was deemed justified, Albuquerqueans have taken to the streets to protest the police department that has killed 23 people since 2010.
In the last three years, Albuquerque police department officers have shot and killed 23 people -- one of the highest per capita fatal police shooting rates in the country. One of the most recent was James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man. The incident was captured on video, and shows Boyd, armed with two knives, standing several feet away from officers. He is turning away from them when he is shot. As he lay on the ground, officers fired beanbags at him and set a police dog on him. He died the next day.
Albuquerque PD chief Gordon Eden said the shooting was justified because Boyd "directed a threat" at one of the officers and they'd already used non-lethal force to no effect. As we know, if police officers think they are being threatened -- whether that threat turns out to be real or just a 70-year-old man reaching for his cane -- they are allowed to shoot people.
About 1,000 people took to the streets on March 25 to protest Boyd's killing. Even a retired APD officer participated, telling KRQE: "The methods they used were not methods I'd ever been taught."
A few hours later, another officer shot and killed Alfred Redwine, though he was armed with a gun and may have fired at officers before they shot him (officers say he did, neighbors say he didn't).
On March 28, the FBI announced that it was investigating Boyd's shooting. The Department of Justice has been investigating the APD for years.
RT @CalebJamesKOB: Now a long line of riot police versus #APDProtest demonstrators. @KOB4 pic.twitter.com/KkD4aQ3TFA #OpAlbuquerque— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) March 31, 2014
Today, following Anonymous' call to action, hundreds of protestors marched to the APD headquarters, then took to other streets, blocking traffic. Officers donned riot gear, but so far (and somewhat surprisingly) no one has been shot. There were reports of tear gas being fired. The protest has been going on for hours now.
Meanwhile, APD's website was hacked. The site was down for hours, according to the AP, and officer's personal information (for example, Eden's) was obtained and tweeted. Anonymous has taken credit for the hack.
The Albuquerque Journal (which has a good liveblog of the protest) estimates that the the city has spent more than $24 million on police misconduct lawsuits, including a $7.95 million lawsuit to the family of a man killed while holding a gun to his own head.