ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the ACLU, Disability Rights New Mexico, and the Native American Voters Alliance filed a motion to intervene in the settlement agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Albuquerque. Were the court to grant this motion, these local community organizations would become parties to the agreement with the City, increasing the community’s say in how the agreement will be implemented.
“We have always maintained that local community involvement is essential to the success of the effort to reform the Albuquerque Police Department,” said Alexandra Freedman Smith, Legal Director for the ACLU of New Mexico. “The most vulnerable populations in Albuquerque suffer the brunt of unconstitutional policing practices, and their voices must be a part of the conversation. Together, we can strengthen the efforts to build APD into the responsible, community-friendly police force our city deserves.”
Three organizations will act as plaintiffs on behalf of the Albuquerque communities most vulnerable to police excessive use of force:
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico will represent Albuquerque community members who are experiencing homelessness
- Disability Rights New Mexico will represent people in Albuquerque living with mental illness
- The Native American Voters Alliance will represent the Native American community living in Albuquerque
“Among the names of those whom APD has killed are many people who were living with mental illness,” said Nancy Koenigsberg, Executive Director of Disability Rights New Mexico. “In order to face and fix this problem, we need to change how law enforcement interacts with people in crisis. That is why it is so important that advocates for people with mental illness have a seat at the table when it comes to reforming our police department.”
“The Native community has long felt unfairly targeted by police in Albuquerque,” said Laurie Weahkee, Executive Director of the Native American Voters Alliance. “As we move forward in the important work reforming APD, we want to be able to provide input on how our city’s police can better serve and protect Native people living in Albuquerque.”
Albuquerque law firm Freedman, Boyd, Hollander, Goldberg, Urias, & Ward P.A., long-time civil rights attorney Phil Davis, and Nicholas Davis are partnering with attorneys from the ACLU and Disability Rights New Mexico on the motion.
Read a copy of the motion to intervene here: Final Intervention Motion 3-5-15