ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Activists in Albuquerque said Thursday they are preparing to greet federal agents coming to New Mexico’s largest city with civil disobedience and peaceful protests.
Gathering at a park and wearing masks, members of a coalition organized by the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice vowed to resist any Portland-style “occupation” and any efforts to increase aggressive policing in a city that has seen clashes between demonstrators and police in recent years.
Last week, President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the new law enforcement deployment to some cities, including Albuquerque. Both gave assurances the move would not involve agents in tactical gear like those used to confront protesters in Portland, Oregon, where demonstrations have spiraled into violence
U.S. Attorney for New Mexico John C. Anderson defended the decision to deploy 35 federal agents to Albuquerque to address violent crime, urging the city’s Democratic mayor to embrace the effort
An uneasy truce has emerged as Mayor Tim Kelle acknowledged assurances that the federal agents are not aimed at policing protests or civil unrest.
“The U.S. attorney has provided a written guarantee that Operation Legend will not be what we saw in Portland,” Keller said in a statement, invoking the nickname for the federal surge. “However, we remain concerned about the president’s own words that contradict these assurances.”
Trump said he wants to combat rising crime in cities, including Chicago and Albuquerque, as he runs for reelection under a “law-and-order” mantle, painting the Democrat-led cities as out of control
Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice Executive Director Jim Harvey said Trump is only sending federal agents to Albuquerque as a photo op. He also isn’t buying that the agents will be in the city only as support to tackle violent crimes along with local law enforcement agencies.
“When Trump sends stormtroopers here, we will greet them with nonviolence,” Harvey said.
Albuquerque has battled a rise in some violent crimes and automobile thefts in recent years while facing an officer shortage. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has pressured the city to take a hardline against immigrants in the country illegally in exchange for extra federal dollars to fight crime.
Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity Team. Follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/russcontreras