ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) â€” Critics of the Albuquerque Police Department said they will put the embattled police chief “on trial” during a planned rally Saturday as protesters continue to advocate for reforms.
Demonstrators said the march in Roosevelt Park is aimed at pushing for drastic changes within Albuquerque police following a harsh U.S. Justice Department report over the agency’s use of force.
Albuquerque police also are under scrutiny over 40 police shootings â€” 26 of them fatal â€” since 2010.
David Correia, one of the protest’s organizers, said the mock trial will outline how police Chief Gorden Eden has failed to stop his officers from using excessive force.
“He has to answer to these charges,” Correia said. “They’ll all be read before the public.”
Eden, who took the job four months ago while the U.S. Justice Department was wrapping up its investigation into the police, said in a statement that police have talked to protest organizers and officers will be providing traffic escorts for the marchers.
“We acknowledge their First Amendment rights to voice their concerns,” Eden said. “Our job will be to protect public safety during the time they are in Roosevelt Park and while they are marching. Additional officers will be on call in case they are needed.”
Three previous demonstrators forced the city to momentarily shut down. At one protest, riot police deployed tear gas toward a rowdy crowd. Another demonstration prompted city councilors to abruptly end a scheduled meeting.
The city of Albuquerque and the Justice Department officials currently are negotiating over reforms that federal authorities are expected to order in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Police Department has announced a number of new changes to training and has ordered officers to stop shooting at moving vehicles.