Interview, with Liberation News

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Albuquerque Brown Berets at march vs. police brutality

“I could be one of the ones that was taken out.”

Ricky Gonzales, Albuquerque native and Prime Minister of the Nuevo Mexico Chapter of the Carnalismo Brown Berets, reflected on an experience he had with the Albuquerque Police Department 5 years ago. In his case, it was mistaken identity.

Ricky was at a friend’s apartment when he saw that APD was outside preparing for a raid. “I want to see what happens. I walked out of [the friend’s] apartment. I had assault rifles, lasers and SWAT guns pointed at my chest. I’m carrying a phone charger in my hand, it’s night, it could be mistaken for anything. So, luckily, nothing happened…but it could have gone a completely different way.”

The Brown Berets are a Chicano/Mexican American community organization that was born during the late 1960s and is still active. Their mission is to help those who are oppressed and need a voice.

The Brown Berets, including Ricky, were at the June 21 March Against Police Brutality in Albuquerque to assist with security and show solidarity. They do a lot more than provide security, though. “I like to think of the Brown Berets as a multilateral organization,” says Ricky. They do outreach to gangs, food drives, and toy drives for children born in prison. The Brown Berets do this without much of a budget, Ricky says, “We just fund things ourselves and invest sweat equity”.

According to Ricky, re-education is a major initiative of the Brown Berets. “A lot of our work has to do with re-educating ourselves and others. A lot of us Chicanos were raised with a certain version [of history], not necessarily where we really came from or what really happened. [Being born on] this side of the border and being American and not Mexican [is an accident of birth]. Chicano people here in Albuquerque exempt themselves from the fight of people south of the border – an imaginary line. A lot of [our work] is about re-educating these [Chicanos] to know we’re all the same.”

Video: APD Shoot Homeless man in Sandia Mtns

James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man with mental illness issues, was shot by the Albuquerque PD on Sunday, March 16 2014 after he became engaged in an hours-long standoff with officers who caught him illegally camping in the Sandia foothills.

APD released video footage taken from the helmetcam of an officer on the scene of the crime that depicts a cop opening fire on Boyd while his back was turned to the police. The clip has since been widely circulated online and the Carnalismo Brown Berets have also circulated the clip.

In the video, Boyd tells the police, “Don’t change up the agreement, I’m going to try to walk with you.” As he reaches for his belongings, however, an officer says “Do it” and a flash-bang device is fired at the suspect while a law enforcement dog is let loose. Boyd

remains standing a few yards from the police seemingly unaffected by the blast, but moments later, the police say, he reached for something that they believed to be a knife, prompting Officers Dominque Perez and Keith Sandy to fire a total of six shots into the man.

APD have been known to make this excuse up before, and even shot a young man dead while he was holding a plastic spork. Unfortunately the was no video of that incident.

As Boyd laid motionless on a rock with his face in a pool of blood, the police continued to bark orders at him before firing further rounds of non-lethal ammunition.

After APD released the video, New Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said that the video showed that the shooting is justified.

With regards to this month’s incident, Chief Eden said Boyd posed a
“direct threat” to his officers and cited Garner v. Tennessee, a Supreme
Court of the United States decision that found that the police can use
deadly force in certain circumstances.

Albuquerque police have shot more people than the New York Police Department since 2010, despite being one-sixteenth the size, and have been the subject of a Department of
Justice federal probe when the APD’s fatal shooting record was called
into question.

The findings from the DOJ Report can be found on