FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Southwest Region chapters of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-SW) and Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) call on New Mexico state officials and federal officials to act quickly to halt the deployment of federal law enforcement officers to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
On July 4, 2020, President Trump deployed federal agents to Portland to “quell” demonstrations. These officers—primarily U.S. Marshals and members of a tactical unit of Border Patrol—have since subjected demonstrators to unconscionable violence resulting in physical injury and trauma. The officers do not wear name badges and as such, are unidentifiable and unaccountable as they routinely and indiscriminately launch offensives against demonstrators in Portland.
Despite the chaos this deployment has already caused in Portland, On July 22, 2020, Attorney General Barr alongside President Trump, announced the expansion of “Operation Legend” to Chicago and Albuquerque to “protect the residents of those cities from senseless acts of deadly violence.” Notably, these are cities where—like Portland—Black Lives Matter protests have not lost momentum.
We join local Albuquerque organizations in denouncing the Bernallillo County Sheriff, Manuel Gonzales III for his complicity in collaboration with the Trump administration’s shadow police force:
“…the possible deployment of Trump’s federal paramilitary force in a majority community of color [is] simply another damaging tactic laced with xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment that does not make families safe. It is a ploy to distract the nation from the failures of the Trump administration during a global pandemic while further descending into a totalitarian regime in the U.S. … The relationship between local law enforcement and our communities is already a fractured one as our city and country have experienced a deep and persistent history of police brutality and abuse. Most recently highlighted with the shooting of an unarmed protestor by Steven Baca, the son of a former Bernalillo Country Sheriff.”
The Water Protector Legal Collective and Southwest Region chapters of the National Lawyers Guild stand in solidarity with activists across Turtle Island fighting for Black Lives matter, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, and all those who struggle for a world where human rights are valued over property rights. We condemn the conduct of federal and local law enforcement officers who escalate tactics and violate the First and Fourth Amendment rights of protestors and denounce the imposition of a police state. We demand that federal law enforcement not be deployed to Albuquerque, New Mexico—the presence of such a force has no place in a democratic nation such as the United States.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
The Water Protector Legal Collective is a Native led nonprofit organization that provides criminal and civil legal representation to Indigenous and other people engaged in Native led environmental actions affecting Native land. Originally formed during the Dakota Access pipeline protest in Standing Rock, WPLC now advocates on behalf of Water Protectors across the country.