Verbal Gymnastics and Platitudes: the Mayor and Police Chief Up Close and Personal

The report makes clear that the problem begins with APD leadership, which means APD Chief Gorden Eden (left) and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry bear final responsibility.

Commentary by KAY MATTHEWS

At the end of Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden’s 38-minute news conference to discuss the findings of the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation released today, the Al Jazeera America reporter asked Berry, Do you want to offer an apology to the families of the victims of APD violence? He didn’t answer. Another reporter followed up: Do you take any responsibility for the problems with APD: verbal gymnastics, no answer. The press conference was over.

What other questions did Berry refuse to answer or evade?

• The District Attorney’s office found that all the killings the DOJ report says violated Constitutional rights were justified. What are you going to do about that?

• Kenneth Ellis was killed shortly after you came into office. Why has it taken four years to address that situation?

So what did Berry and Eden say?

• I don’t want to comment on that.

• We want to move forward, not assign blame.

• We’ll be discussing that with the DOJ.

• We’ll wait for the DOJ to tell us what to do about that.

• Our “new” chief is going to lead this process.

Of course we just found out yesterday that “new” chief Eden is a defendant in four whistleblower lawsuits in his former incarnation as Public Safety Secretary, accused of ordering investigators (the whistleblowers) to stop their investigations of missing weapons and to keep their mouths shut.

We anticipated the findings of the DOJ—that the APD violated the Constitutional rights of citizens with excessive force and violence and that that violence is endemic and structural—but reacted with outrage that there will be no binding contract to make sure “reforms” are implemented to address this deplorable situation. Not that anyone has any illusions that the feds will come in, take over, and “fix” things. It didn’t happen in Seattle and it probably wouldn’t happen here, either.

So it’s up to all those who have been meeting, talking, organizing, protesting, and filing lawsuits to keep up the momentum, to watch these guys with an eagle eye and document everything they do or don’t do.

One question that Berry answered in the negative: Are you and Chief Eden going to consider resigning?