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Rebellion at Roosevelt Park in Albuquerque, N.M., June 1971. Photo: Guy Bralley/Albuquerque Journal

Activists in Albuquerque this week commemorated the 50th anniversary of one of the first modern Mexican American rebellions against police over discrimination and harassment.

Why it matters: The "Albuquerque uprising" is part of the forgotten history of protests against police mistreatment of Latinos in the 1960s and 1970s. Since the murder of George Floyd, Latino advocates have tried to draw attention to that history and the often-overlooked police violence against Hispanics today.

Background: In June 1971, the arrest of several Chicano teens for underage drinking at Albuquerque's Roosevelt Park set off 30 hours of violence in New Mexico's largest city.

  • Hundreds had gathered in the park for a concert. As the police became more aggressive, young Mexican Americans threw rocks and bottles at officers, yelling "Chicano power" and other slogans.
A Mexican American teen detained by Albuquerque police. Photo: Albuquerque Journal
  • Officers “started putting on strong pressure, and some of the guys got fed up,” Richard Moore, minister of justice for the Black Berets, a militant Mexican American group, told the Daily Lobo at the time.
  • Police fired their guns in the air and tossed tear gas but the angry crowd overturned police cars, started fires and smashed windows, forcing officers to flee.
  • The uprising didn't end until the National Guard was called in. Some 600 people were arrested, dozens injured and the area and nearby buildings suffered an estimated $5 million in damage.
Police take cover during protests with Mexican American demonstrators in Albuquerque, 1971. Photo: Albuquerque Journal

The intrigue: The unrest led to reforms in the Albuquerque police department and forced officials to acknowledge the ongoing harassment of Latinos. In the lead up to the rebellion, Mexican American activists had been complaining about police excessive force but officials had ignored them.

  • “I know we have police brutality in Albuquerque,” New Mexico Lt. Gov. Robert Mondragon told a crowd at Roosevelt Park the day after the rebellion started. “Police brutality is not alleged—it is factual.”

Like previous clashes with police and Black Americans in places like Cairo, Ill., and York, Pa., the uprising came after years of physical harassment and brutality by white officers and a new influx of federal funds that gave police department military equipment.

  • Such rebellions against police in smaller cities have been dismissed as "hoodlums" who just rioted, Yale historian Elizabeth Hinton points out in her new book, "America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s."
  • Hinton argues that a generation after the Civil Rights Movement, people of color used violence as a political tool to fight growing police harassment and oppression.
  • The country saw similar rebellions by Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans in Jersey City, N.J.; Pharr and Houston, Texas; Oxnard, Calif.; and Bridgeport, Conn.
Riot police try to control Mexican American protesters in Albuquerque, 1971. Photo: Albuquerque Journal

Don't forget: Albuquerque today remains under a federal consent decree to reform its police department following a 2014 U.S. Justice Department investigation that found routine use of excessive force.

  • An independent monitor has repeatedly criticized Albuquerque police for refusing to change its culture.

Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
Jun 16, 2021 - Axios Denver

5 police shootings in 30 days prompt concern in Denver

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five people in 30 days died after being shot by a Denver police officer, with the latest fatal shooting on Sunday.

  • In all the incidents, police said the person carried a weapon and they fired after the person refused to follow their commands to surrender.

Why it matters: The rapid succession of deadly shootings in one city appears without precedent in 2021 or 2020, according to a list of police shootings compiled by Colorado Public Radio.

Updated Jun 17, 2021 - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.

Jun 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Des Moines seeks to curb disruptive City Council meetings

The public hearing portion of the Des Moines City Council meeting Monday was postponed due to disruptions. Photo courtesy of the city of DSM’s live meeting video

DSM is evaluating extra safety and decorum protocols after dozens of protestors disrupted Monday's City Council meeting, city officials told Axios.

Driving the news: Demonstrators showed up to the council's first in-person meeting of the year with defund police signs, demanding that the city deny a nearly $11K police officer training proposed for later this summer.

Why it matters: While the protests were peaceful, some are concerned they put public safety at risk, including to demonstrators themselves.

  • City leaders are now warning of arrests or citations if such disruptions continue at future meetings.
  • Plus: Unruly meetings make it difficult for citizens to tell elected officials about their concerns.

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