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Mayor Keller and City Officials Denounce Racism and Address Incident at an Albuquerque Protest

May 29, 2020

During a press conference at City Hall this morning, Mayor Tim Keller and City officials made statements on the protest that occurred in Albuquerque Thursday evening. Please find written remarks and a video from the press conference below.

Mayor Keller’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Before we get started, I want to talk about George Floyd. He has been on my heart and mind these last few days, as I know he has been for so much of our community. His death has left us with rightful anger and grief. And just weeks after our nation saw the video of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. My words can’t capture the depth of the pain that so many people, especially people of color, are experiencing right now. As your Mayor, I want to acknowledge that pain. Here in Albuquerque, we stand with those grieving these incidents around the nation. We stand with those calling for justice. 

I’ve been working with our Chief of Police over the last three years on efforts to restore trust between APD and our community. We know just how important that trust is. It’s not just about all our work engaging with neighborhood leaders, business owners, and people in need. It’s also about how we respond to events. Earlier this morning, the Chief denounced the actions of the Minneapolis police officers and gave a briefing about the protest here last night.

The deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky are horrifying, heart-breaking and unacceptable. Although these murders took place outside of Albuquerque, it does not mean that Albuquerque is shielded from anti-Black and racist behaviors. White people have not done enough to address racism in this country.

The Coronavirus pandemic is exposing and compounding the effects of that inequity. All across America the black community and people of color have been horribly disproportionately affected. On top of that, we have the White House stoking racism, violence and division; during a pandemic when we need compassion and leadership the most.

And so we are here today, with stress from pandemic, a legacy of discrimination all on top of violent crime. Many of us lost our jobs, many of us are suffering from vast anxiety about the future; many of us are depressed, many of us are tired, many of us are angry. For those who are sick and those who in communities that have seen young black men killed by law enforcement, that is all of this tenfold on top of personal grief. This is many in America today, we have to recognize that, we have to try and understand that.

The recent hate incident towards the University of New Mexico Director of Africana Studies Dr. Charles Becknell, Jr. is an example of why we cannot be silent in our city. We have to actively work together to dismantle racism. To be silent is to be complicit. And so we must remind each other, that in Albuquerque, this is not us.

The City of Albuquerque believes that Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with the African American community who are grieving the recurring violence against their community.  Incidents of anti-Blackness and racism have a long history in our city and country. The recent attacks in our local community and across the nation were made to invoke fear and disunity. We will not buckle under fear and are committed to continuing the work that makes us a unified community. 

In this city, and in this administration, we each have a responsibility to work together to dismantle racism. This is a long, long journey, but it’s is one we are going to continue to take.  We also know that there are times to protest, a time to express frustration with the system and all that we are going through. These are incredibly tough challenges for our first responders asked to keep the public, including the protestors safe. 

Our police department works to avoid confrontation and de-escalate to avoid violence, and to be prepared to save lives. This protocol also includes appropriate engagement when violence is eminent; this was the case last night, as after a relatively peaceful demonstration, families and advocates went home. But hours later, dozens of shots were fired near the protest; the remaining protesters, officers, and neighbors all needed to be kept safe. That is why the department engaged, and we are grateful that despite the gunfire, no one was hurt.

Here at the City, we strive to dismantle the structures of inequality and be actively anti-racist in our work. We have teams dedicated to civil rights, equity and inclusion, and immigrant and refugee affairs. This work starts with ourselves in our own house through employee trainings, and then is embedded in our work building a city that works for everyone.

In this city, we stand up to divisive rhetoric. In this city, we stand together no matter our race or where we come from. We will not let up our efforts for a peaceful, just and equitable ABQ.

The City of Albuquerque, and the Albuquerque Police Department, will continue to work on these issues with our Office of Equity & Inclusion and Office of Civil Rights. We are also educating our workforce along with the community in our anti-racism workshops through the Equity Training Initiative. We ask that each of you continues to do your part by joining us at these workshops and continuing to call out racism and injustice whenever and wherever you see it.

To report a hate crime, please contact Albuquerque Police Department:

To report discrimination, please contact the Office of Civil Rights:

APD Chief Geier also made remarks at the press conference, which are included here as prepared for delivery:

The death of Mr. Floyd is deeply disturbing and should be of concern to everyone in our country. On behalf of APD and the City of Albuquerque, I would like to offer our sympathy and condolences to the Floyd family. The officers’ actions are inconsistent with the training and protocols of our Department. APD has worked tirelessly to build trust between law enforcement and the community we are sworn to protect. What occurred in Minneapolis is an unfortunate reminder of how quickly bad policing can undermine that trust.

The law enforcement profession must do better and hold ourselves to a higher standard.   Our officers are trained to treat all individuals with dignity and respect.  This is the essence of the principles of procedural justice. Like APD, most police agencies have taught their officers to de-escalate critical situations and avoid the use of force when possible. We will not tolerate these actions and we denounce any type of brutality. The senseless misconduct demonstrated in this unfortunate incident should not define other police departments across our nation.  APD denounces the behavior of the Minneapolis officers and we will continue to build the trust we have established with the community we so proudly serve.

Please see a video of remarks by Mayor Keller and Civil Rights Office Director Torri Jacobus: