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City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis Release Statements on Violence Connected to Recent Protests

June 16, 2020

City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis released the following statements of concern regarding violence connected to recent protests in the City:

City Councilor Pat Davis:

I am deeply disturbed by the escalation of events that transpired last night in our city.  Like all of us, I am hopeful for the full recovery of the victim of the shooting.

While we deserve to quickly see a full detail of the events and decisions as they unfolded, I have real concerns about the decisions made before and during the planned prayer vigil and protests at the Albuquerque Museum that allowed at least three different groups, including one armed militia, with three different agendas to converge and antagonize each other unimpeded.

Those charged with making decisions about engagement have put our officers in the impossible situation of protecting the rights of conflicting protesters while not intervening to prevent the inevitable conflicts.

At its core, policing is about protecting life and property.  By that standard, the city failed on both counts last night.

It is time for the City to engage in serious soul searching about how we help de-escalate conflicts across the board.

City Councilor Isaac Benton:

There appear to be similarities between last night’s actions and those in our downtown a few weekends ago.  In each case, outside opportunists were able to take advantage of a thoughtful and peaceful protest to advance their own agendas that include mayhem and destruction, targeting public and private property and endangering innocent persons.

It is the responsibility of the police and senior leadership to understand and anticipate the dynamics and potential conflicts, and take appropriate precautionary measures.

In events last night and a few weekends ago, the City failed to plan for or respond quickly enough as the dynamics evolved. There is now an unfortunate perception that the City has been willing to stand aside as destruction occurs. That perception must be changed.

It is easy to engage in Monday morning quarterbacking and criticism after the fact. But we must learn the lessons of our mistakes and adjust the City’s strategy publicly and quickly to ensure that the right to protest is protected, without allowing intimidation or destruction.

I’ve joined African-American leaders in efforts to remove Confederate monuments in Old Town. I completely understand the concerns of Native Americans and others about the Oñate statues and the glorification of other symbols of oppression. These efforts cannot be hijacked by opportunists who would deny a civil discourse about their meaning and our common history.

Councilors Benton and Davis have asked the Mayor’s administration to provide a public accounting for the events and decisions as they unfolded, and to make those available for public review through the Council’s hearings process.

The Councilors also join Mayor Keller in asking the legislature to change state firearms laws to allow Albuquerque to enact common-sense gun legislation.