In 2009, the Albuquerque police department (APD) chased a young man, aged 19, and shot him down as he attempted to run away from him. Then, as he dropped to the ground, one police officer shot him point blank in the chest, killing him in cold blood. The police also killed a 25 year old war veteran who suffered from PTSD. Last month, members of the APD carried out a merciless murder against a homeless man. In addition, the police abuse their method of deploying tasers against people in non-threatening situations. Indeed, very sadly, Albuquerque’s police brutality has reached a boiling point.
As the chilling murders come to light, protesters and activists have taken to the streets of Albuquerque to protest the institutional violence running rampant in the state’s most populated city. Anonymous, the ragtag collection of hackers and social justice activists, have organized the political onslaught of the police department. It is not the first time the internet collective has inserted itself in corruption. During Occupy Wall Street, many members of Anonymous took to the streets of New York and Boston, wearing “Guy Fawkes” masks on their faces to protest the economic inequity in the United States. This was seen by many that were involved in the Occupy movement as hijacking the cause. Anonymous is notorious, in part due to their fame on underground sites like 4chan and Reddit, for inciting chaos and turning the lives of the corrupt upside down. They were also responsible for the leaked video that implicated the Steubenville rapists.
Anonymous has power, and for better or worse, they are using it to take to the streets of Albuquerque to bring about change. However, as is often the case with protests overseas, riot police infiltrated the peaceful protests and dispersed tear gas among the demonstrators. This was the direct provocation that resulted in the protesters to throw rocks at the police and vandalize the police station. The violent standoff has been widely condemned by people across the nation, with most – if not all – aligning themselves ideologically with the protesters and Anonymous.
With widespread violence in recent weeks, and a wanton disregard for the own law they swore to uphold, Albuquerque’s police department and their brutality has reached a boiling point. That point is a point of no return, and things will surely change now that an entire national audience has its eyes on APD’s every move.
The U.S. Department of Justice has released a scathing report on the brutality, citing over 20 killings by the hands of the Albuquerque police. Those who were not killed, have been systematically abused and harassed with beatings, and tasers. In one instance, a man who doused himself in gasoline was engulfed in flames when the police responded to the self immolation with a taser. Though he lived, there is no excuse for the severity of systemic misconduct. There is no excuse for over 20 people killed by people sworn to protect. There was no situation in which the police had to fear for their own lives. Further, any impeding investigation into these tragedies have been buried by the architects of the police institution in the city, effectively allowing the abuse to continue. Those days are minimally numbered, however, as these abuses come to national light. As in Turkey, it is possible that America will see a purge or re-shuffling of the members of the Albuquerque police station. Hopefully, it will be the former, so they can stand trial for their actions.
Opinion by Tyler Collins