Exclusive: Mayor Berry responds to protest in his office

Updated: 06/05/2014 6:13 PM | Created: 06/05/2014 5:57 PM
By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For the first time since a group of angry protesters took over his office at City Hall and demanded to speak to him about the Albuquerque Police Department, Mayor Richard Berry is talking about the protest.

Berry said he was in New York City for a mayors' conference when he found out about the protest.

Had he been in his office, Berry said he would have talked to the group.

"I would have said, 'Listen. We're happy to talk you,'" Berry said. "'Let's do it in a productive and meaningful manner.'"

The mayor says he wants to move forward and focus on starting a dialogue with the protesters to keep City Hall from being disrupted again.

"We want people to know that we are listening. We do want to listen," he said. "A number of people that came up as protesters we have met. We've reached out to them. Others, we haven't had a chance yet, but we will."

Police arrested 13 protesters. One woman, Nora Anaya, chained herself to a display case outside of Berry's office.

At the time, Anaya told KOB she had been waiting a year to see Berry after she scheduled a meeting. Anaya's nephew was killed by APD, according to the ANSWER Coalition.

"It's not overly hard to get in to see me," Berry told KOB on Thursday. "I asked my staff how many folks that came in actually requested meetings. I think one or two of them had. And one lady had asked for a meeting a year ago and didn't get it. So we need to do better with that too."

Berry said the protest shook up some of his staff members and APD Chief Gorden Eden said they had to call officers off the street to make the arrests. The protest also disrupted business at City Hall.

"I think there's more productive ways to go about their business," Berry said when asked if he thought the protesters crossed the line.

Berry said he plans to unveil a new program next week aimed at getting community input on solutions for reforming APD.

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