Since 2010, Albuquerque police have been involved in 37 shootings that have resulted in 23 deaths.
When Nos. 22 and 23 occurred on the same day last month, Indian Country Today Media Network reports, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest, and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the 1,100-officer department.
Two of the 23 have been Native Americans, according to the ICTMN story by Alysa Landry.
“It’s become a public safety crisis,” said Bineshi Albert, of the Native American Voters Alliance in Albuquerque. “There’s outrage, surely, and good reason for people to be outraged.”
Even two Native fatalities is too high, said Albert, who is Chippewa and Yuchi. According to 2010 Census data, about 25,000 Natives live in Albuquerque, or less than 5 percent of the city’s total population.
“Two of 23 is significant,” Albert said. “It’s more than what it should be, given the population.”
Alfred Redwine, a Native, was shot after he allegedly opened fire on officers at a public housing complex March 16. The same day, police shot and killed a homeless man with a history of mental illness, James Boyd, following a standoff.
In 2010 another Native American, Len Fuentes, was killed after threatening officers with a knife.
“The community should not be afraid of law enforcement,” Albert said. “It’s a hard and even shameful thing to think that we live in a time when I have to tell my children how they have to behave when approached by a police officer, as opposed to telling my children that if they’re in trouble they can go to the police. It’s a sad situation, but I’m more fearful that the police will harm them.”
- Vince Devlin