Earlier this year, the Albuquerque-based community activist group, the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), was in the planning stages of a juvenile justice campaign. The group’s director George Luján told NM Political Report that the planning stage quickly turned to an “emergency response campaign” to push state and local facilities to expeditiously release youth from juvenile facilities.
“So, instead of spending six months planning a campaign, we immediately launched into a set of recommendations to release young people and ensure their safety in those facilities,” Luján said.
SWOP has sent out numerous press releases and open letters to state officials asking them to release more youth from facilities, similar to pushes by advocates for a reduction in inmates in adult detention centers. Luján said the response from the state has been underwhelming, while the head of the Children Youth and Families Department has said they have released as many youth as they can while also considering the safety of the community.
The issue of juvenile facilities and who should be let out is a complicated one. Community activists argue that the youth who are still in state and county facilities not only face the risk of COVID-19, but are also facing emotional damage by being separated from their families. Those community activists also argue that too much money is being spent on committing youth to state facilities and not enough is being spent on prevention.
“We’ve had programs that have been successful,” Luján said.
Beneath the gnarled limbs of a sprawling cottonwood tree at the edge of his South Valley farm, Lorenzo Candelaria settles into a circle of lawn chairs. He’s surrounded by staffers from Project Feed the Hood, including Travis McKenzie, Stefany Olivas, Luzero Velasquez and a few student interns. There’s also nine-year old Trayvon, who hops into the (empty) roasting pit, samples blackberries, catches (and frees) a tiny toad and peppers Candelaria with questions about his beehives. “This is the Cottonwood Clinic,” says McKenzie. He’s the co-founder of Project Feed the Hood, which connects communities with healthy food and young people with the land—and a paycheck.
The Working Families Party tapped a former State Senator and Albuquerque City Councilor to head the organization in New Mexico. The progressive group made the announcement just before Labor Day that Eric Griego is the group’s new state director. “As an elected official and community leader, Eric had one of the strongest records in New Mexico of standing by working families even when others in both parties wavered,” SouthWest Organizing Project Executive Director Javier Benavidez said. Benavidez is also on the board of the state’s Working Families Party. The Working Families Party is active in nine other states and the District of Columbia.
Two years after a community advocacy group filed a complaint against a City of Albuquerque department, a federal agency confirmed it will conduct an investigation into the Albuquerque Air Quality Division and its governing board. Members of the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) filed a complaint in 2014 against the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board and the Air Quality Division. The group said industrial businesses are allowed to overly pollute neighborhoods occupied predominantly people of color. The complaint also alleged the city board discriminated against community members who live in affected neighborhoods by denying them a public hearing. Now, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the claims.
Juan Reynosa, a field organizer with SWOP, said his group tried to work with the board for years to lessen the effects of pollution from industrial businesses near residential neighborhoods.
One week after police shootings and death of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota rocked the country and led to nationwide protests, an Albuquerque restaurant wrote “Black Olives Matter” on its outdoor sign to promote its weekly special. The message is a not-so-subtle reference to the Black Lives Matter movement that began in 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin. The loosely-organized movement has focused on killings of African-Americans, including shootings by police. Paisano’s, an Italian eatery located in a northeast neighborhood on the Eubank Boulevard and Indian School Road intersection, also wrote “try our tapenade” below “Black Olives Matter” and posted the message on its Facebook page Wednesday. Tapenade is a spread made primarily from olives.
Out of the about 1,000 protesters who showed up to demonstrate against Donald Trump, fewer than 30 were those who perpetrated violence. That was what Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden told media in a press conference on Thursday afternoon, two days after a once-peaceful protest against the presumptive Republican nominee turned violent. Note: This story may be updated. Eden said that protesters carried rocks and other projectiles in backpacks and threw them at officers. He said every officer who was on the front line was hit with at least one rock.
Albuquerque police announced four arrests at the protests of the Donald Trump rally last night and said more are likely coming. The once-peaceful protests turned violent as the day turned to night and the family atmosphere turned more threatening. An Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman said “Six officers suffered significant injuries after being pummeled with fist-sized rocks.” All six were treated on the scene, and suffered injuries “to their faces, noses, arms and legs.” No officers were transported to the hospital for these injuries. One Sergeant was treated for smoke inhalation, which police blame on fires lit by the protesters. APD announced one Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy was injured, though it isn’t clear to what extent.
The Albuquerque Police Department told media they are preparing for a big crowd Tuesday night when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brings his campaign to town. A police spokesman also said that they are not anticipating any problems from protesters who are already planning to gather at the same time Tuesday night. A group organizing the protest also is planning for a peaceful protest and is saying they’re seeing a large amount of online interest. Trump will be at the Albuquerque Convention Center, just days after Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders drew 7,000 supporters for a rally. So many media outlets were asking about the security for the rally that the Albuquerque Police Department called a press conference to address the issues.
A demonstration outside of a Verizon shareholder’s meeting resulted in brief detainment and criminal citations for a group of union members and one New Mexico lawmaker. Executive Director of the Southwest Organizing Project Javier Benavidez, New Mexico Federation of Labor President Jon Hendry and state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, were among those who received citations for blocking traffic near Old Town in Albuquerque. Albuquerque police confirmed 15 protesters received citations, but said police made no arrests. These were just a portion of the hundreds of protesters who set up shop outside a Verizon shareholder’s meeting. Police also said there were no injuries at the peaceful protest.
New Mexico is the sixth-fastest-warming state in the United States, with average annual temperatures expected to rise 3.5 to 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100, according to a report released by the Cambridge, MA.-based nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists. The report lays out many of the impacts New Mexicans may already be familiar with, including temperature rises, decreasing wateravailability, changes in snowpack, wildfire, conifer dieoff from insects and drought, and impacts to tribal communities from post-Los Conchas fire flooding. And it discusses the describes challenges posed to New Mexico culture, communities, and economic sectors–particularly the state’s agricultural sector.
Union of Concerned Scientists report: http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2016/04/Climate-Change-New-Mexico-fact-sheet.pdf Summer temperatures in New Mexico vary from year to year, but a careful analysis shows a consistent warming trend—a trend that is projected to continue into the future. Since 1970, the trend has steepened to an increase of about 0.6°F per decade.