By DAVID CORREIA
Each October 22nd, anti-police violence activists throughout the U.S. observe a national day of protest against police brutality. What began in Los Angeles and New York in 1996 is now organized nationally as the “October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.”
The coalition also created the Stolen Lives Project, which describes its mission as an effort to “assemble a national list of people killed by law enforcement agents from 1990 to the present. Through grassroots efforts, over 2000 cases were documented in the second edition of the Stolen Lives book, which was published in 1999. Although just the tip of the iceberg, these 2000+ are evidence of a horrifying national epidemic of police brutality. The victims of police violence were part of our society, but rarely are their lives or names publicized, or the real circumstances surrounding their deaths investigated and made known. The Stolen Lives Project aims to restore some dignity to the lives lost. Though their lives have been stolen from us, we will not allow them to be forgotten.”
New Mexico anti-police activists have actions planned in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Demonstrations in Santa Fe begin at 8 AM when family and friends of Victor Vialpando will gather at the First Judicial District courthouse south of the plaza on Montezuma Avenue.
In June of this year, Española police officers Jeremy Apodaca and Ritchie Trujillo shot and killed 16-year old Victor Vialpando. Police claim Vialpando, a youth artist and dance instructor in Española, pointed a weapon at them, but an investigation revealed the boy was holding a toy gun. District Attorney Spence Pacheco recently brought the case before a grand jury, which found the shooting justified. Family and friends were outraged at the grand jury’s decision.
After protestors rally at the courthouse, they plan to march to the Roundhouse, New Mexico’s state capitol building, where Vialpando’s family, friends and northern New Mexico dance community plan performances and a rally in his memory and in solidarity with the national day of protest against police violence.
In Albuquerque, as activists have done on October 22 each year, activists will gather at Civic Plaza at 5 PM and march to the Albuquerque Police Department at 400 Roma in downtown Albuquerque where speakers, including family members of people killed by APD, will speak. A candlelight vigil is planned along with a balloon release: red balloons, representing the bloodshed of innocent victims of police violence; black balloons, representing the corruption at City Hall and in APD that has allowed the problem of police violence to go unresolved; and white balloons, to honor the lives of victims and their mourners.