A top city official’s assertion that police had to to put Donald Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters just a few feet from each other is wrong, the ACLU says. And the ACLU’s national website says that “police are permitted to keep two antagonistic groups separated” when it comes to public protests. But Mayor Richard Berry’s Chief of Staff, Gilbert Montaño, apparently didn’t know that on Monday when he told an Albuquerque Journal reporter just the opposite. According to the Journal’s story, “Montaño said police determined it would be against the law to force Trump supporters and protesters into separate areas. Previous case law, he said, calls for them to have the ‘ability to be right next to each other.”
But Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, said case law doesn’t restrict police departments as much as Montaño claimed.
State Auditor Tim Keller forwarded his office’s findings of Albuquerque Police Department’s potentially illegal relationship with an Arizona stun gun company to two legal offices for investigation. Keller’s office released a report, which New Mexico Political Report outlined early Thursday, finding probable violations of city and state law from the department’s nearly $2 million contract with TASER International for lapel cameras. His office also asked state Attorney General Hector Balderas and District Attorney Kari Brandenberg to conduct investigations into the matter. Specifically, Keller’s risk review found former Albuquerque Police Chief Raymond Schultz’ actions in “probable” violation of the state Governmental Conduct Act, city procurement rules and city conflict of interest rules. “We believe these are very substantial violations,” Keller told a crowd of reporters Thursday morning.
A new trend by the city of Albuquerque and its police department of releasing video statements online in lieu of face-to-face interviews has one New Mexico television executive mad enough to issue a video condemning the practice. Last week, Mary Lynn Roper, president and general manager for KOAT-TV, spoke out against the Albuquerque Police Department for issuing statements through their YouTube channel. In the video, posted on KOAT’s website, Roper accused APD of hiding behind an “electric version of The Wizard of Oz curtain” and not releasing information. The full video is available below. According to Roper, KOAT-TV requested information about a fatal shooting at a skate park and only received a pre-recorded video as a response.
Margaret Wright is an Albuquerque-based journalist who is a former managing editor of the Alibi and co-founder of the New Mexico Compass. Margaret has also worked as a teacher, social worker and waitress and is currently a reporter with the New Mexico Political Report. On Friday evening, Gilbert Montaño, the City of Albuquerque’s deputy chief administrative officer, was on the phone to make amends. “Moving forward, I’d be happy to sit down and chat,” he told me. “We’re not isolators when it comes to media.