Albuquerque City Council meeting descends into chaos

By: CBS
By: CBS

Albuquerque, NM (CBS) - A meeting of the Albuquerque City Council turned to chaos and was ultimately canceled Monday night, prompting the police chief and council members to walk out.

Protesters took over the meeting, still furious over a series of incident involving the city's police department in which people were killed or excessive force was used reports CBS affiliate in Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Police Department has faced intense criticism for 37 shootings by officers since 2010 -- more than 20 of them deadly. Critics say that's far too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000. Complaints from local advocacy groups helped launch a federal Justice Department inquiry earlier this year that ultimately agreed the APD has too often gone too far.

The scene at Monday's meeting got out of control during the public comments section when protesters began shoting "This is no longer your meeting, this is the people's meeting. This is democracy in action!" reports KRQE.

Some protesters even pushed council members out of their chairs and sat in them. One person even tried to serve APD Chief Gorden Eden with a warrant for his arrest, KRQE reports.

"We have no control of this meeting!! So if this is your meeting, go ahead," said Albuquerque City Council President Ken Sanchez.

Through several chants and "motions" of government, protesters made it clear they were upset with APD and city council "inaction" and demanding immediate change.

Protesters chanted phrases including "fire the damn Chief," and "fire Mayor Berry."

The outburst started when protester David Corriea, an assistant professor at UNM, took the podium during public comment. Corriea immediately directed his words towards Chief Gorden Eden.

"We now serve a people's warrant for arrest on Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden! He is charged with accessory!" shouted Corriea as the group tossed arrest warrants in the air.

One woman even tried to hand Eden a warrant for his arrest. However, Eden got up and left without acknowledging the woman.

"We're not leaving this podium, I am not leaving this podium!!" Corriea continued to shout at Eden as he left the room.

Protesters kept their promise, not leaving the podium, and taking over when councilors tried to a take a break.

"We will be back in five minutes!" announced Councilor Sanchez.

Councilors took that break for about ten minutes, but protesters kept going.

"Quit sitting on your hands!!!!" shouted one woman with a bullhorn.

Some councilors eventually returned to the chambers and Councilor president Ken Sanchez tried to defuse the situation.

"I would prefer to give people an opportunity to speak... we are here to listen to your concerns. Please respect the chambers," said Sanchez.

But the plea was useless as Sanchez was nearly being drowned out by protesters shouting.

"We have no control of this meeting, this meeting is official adjourned," said Sanchez.

Councilors left, clearly upset, unable to get anything done to fix the troubled police department.

It took protesters about a half-hour to clear out of city council chambers after the meeting was called off. No one was arrested. Councilors were supposed to talk about proposals to take away the mayor's power to hire a police chief. They're now hoping to do that in a special meeting on Thursday.

Chief Gorden Eden sent out a statement Monday night: "We understand there are those in our community who have expressed concerns about APD issues related to the Department of Justice report. We are working hard to make proactive improvements now and in conjunction with DOJ recommendations. While we welcome constructive discussions, we do not believe disruption of tonight's city council meeting was a productive way to meet those goals."

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