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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

Swamp hunt intensifies as Petito's body is identified

Authorities continue their search in the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve for Brian Laundrie. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The body discovered Sunday in a primitive camping area near Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park is Gabby Petito, 22, the adventurer whose disappearance captured the nation's attention, the FBI in Denver confirmed yesterday.

  • The coroner ruled homicide, but cause of death is pending autopsy.

The local scene: Authorities continued fruitlessly searching a dense, swampy reserve in Sarasota County for Petito's fiancé Brian Laundrie, in what North Port police called for the first time a "criminal investigation."

  • Police used drones, dogs and ATVs to search the 25,000-acre slough for Laundrie.
  • The tract is the same parcel they searched this weekend on foot and Monday by air.
Updated 8 mins ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker

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