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Mayor Keller Announces Human Rights Board to Convene Special Meeting This Week on Racism

City of Albuquerque board to hold public hearings, give residents a voice against discrimination

June 2, 2020

This week, the City of Albuquerque Human Rights Board, established to give the public a voice in fighting racism, discrimination and other forms of prejudice, will hold a special meeting to discuss the latest developments in the #BlackLivesMatter protests sweeping the nation and the local community. The meeting will be Wednesday, June 3rd, from 4:30pm-7:30pm.

The Human Rights Board was established by ordinance in 1974 to assure the public safety, public health and general welfare of the community. It is charged to preserve, protect, and promote human rights and human dignity, to promote and encourage the recognition and exercise of human responsibility, to protect and promote equality of access to public goods and services, and to prohibit discrimination. The powers of the Board include making recommendations to the Mayor, City Council, or Chief Administrative Officer based upon its findings concerning problems occasioned by prejudice and discrimination and recommend corrective action. The Board may also conduct programs of research and investigation into the existence, cause, prevention, and remedy of inter-group tensions and hostility, and prejudice and discrimination within the community and may inform and educate the community as to the results of such research and investigation.

The deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky; as well as serious threats made against Dr. Charles Becknell, Jr. here in Albuquerque have led to protests and anger throughout the community. The online meeting will include discussion of recent events, their connection and relevance to Albuquerque, and the work our community is doing to find a path forward. There will be a space for public comment.

Dr. Virginia Necochea, the Human Rights Board Chair, said, “The protests we are witnessing are a reflection of the accumulation of the frustration, anger, and despair of People of Color across the US who are tired of the continued injustices committed against them on a daily basis. The Human Rights Board was created to ‘preserve, protect, and promote human rights and human dignity’ in the City of Albuquerque and that is what we are committed to do. We are holding this special meeting to provide a rightful platform to ensure that our community is being heard.”

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Mayor Tim Keller restructured the former Human Rights Office into the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Civil Rights to better address racial disparities and to achieve equity across all populations and indicators. Members of the Human Rights Board are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council to serve three-year terms.

Mayor Keller said, “I want to acknowledge the pain, anger, sorrow and frustration. I believe that Black Lives Matter, and so does the City of Albuquerque. We stand in solidarity with the African American community who are grieving the recurring violence against their community. We stand with those calling for justice, and this convening of the board will create space for this important conversation.”

Torri Jacobus, the Director of the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Civil Rights, said, “These protests are welling up from years of frustration over the questions of racism and discrimination that have faced every generation of Americans. Long before the latest round of protests, this administration has made it a priority to address those underlying issues. Through meetings like this, we want people to connect with us, because we all need to be engaged in this discussion find a way forward.”

Those wishing to make public comment are asked sign up ahead of time by emailing [email protected] or calling (505) 768-4595.