By Robin Brown
— Hundreds gathered in Albuquerque yesterday after a video went viral that showed police shooting and killing James Boyd. Shouting “No justice, no peace,” people of all walks of life marched from the Alvarado Transportation Center to police headquarters Downtown.
Boyd, 38, was homeless and camping illegally in the Sandia foothills when he was killed on March 14.
Protester Ellen Robinson said people need to speak out, or these incidents get buried. “We’ve got some technology that shows things we couldn’t see before, and we saw that the guy was turning around, and they shot him.” The graphic footage comes from an officer’s helmet camera and was released by the Albuquerque Police Department.
Michael Anthony, 46, says he’s lived in Albuquerque most of his life. “I’m here to show I’m not scared,” Anthony said. “I’ve witnessed a lot of police brutality. It’s got to stop.” There was no police presence at the protest. No police cars followed the marchers; officers did not line the streets in preparation of the protest. There was no violence at the event, only drums, signs and chanting.
A common chant at the protest: “We are all James Boyd! We are all James Boyd!”
Boyd “could be any one of us—anyone. Could be me,” Deborah Marez-Baca said. “There seems to be a pervasive mood or culture where this thing is OK. It’s condoned.
David Stevens was eating dinner when he heard about the demonstration outside. “Someone said, Put down your fork. Walk out into the street,” he said. Stevens has lived in Albuquerque since 1966. He said he never thought he would be homeless but became homeless over the last two years. “It can happen to anyone. And it’s horrible, the way they’re discriminating. This violence has to end. You can’t just shoot a man in cold blood.” He attended the protest to promote peace: “We can’t lower ourselves to their level. We can’t turn violent.”
As the protest wound down last night, police shot and killed a man on the Westside. APD reports that officers were called to an apartment near Central and Coors because the suspect was pointing a gun at a child. The man fired shots at police first, according to APD. But another video has surfaced that was taken by neighbors, who say he was unarmed and talking on his cellphone.
Theresa Hacsi, a civil rights lawyer with the Kennedy Law Firm, spoke at the protest. She called the rash of police shootings an epidemic. “The use of force is out of control. We have officers roaming the streets that are untrained, unqualified and unscreened.” Albuquerque residents are scared for their loved ones, she added, particularly those with mental illness or disabilities. She said the Kennedy Law Firm is looking to bring a class action lawsuit against the city representing families with mentally ill members who live in fear of the police.
Since 2010, there have been 37 officer-involved shootings in Albuquerque, and 24 of them were fatal. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating APD.