DOJ, city to begin negotiations midweek

Created: 06/09/2014 11:01 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Community groups learned the Department of Justice will not allow them to be at the negotiating table with Albuquerque city leaders over a consent decree, according to people who attended a three-hour meeting at the DOJ office Monday night.

Ralph Arellanes, who’s represented the League of United Latin American Citizens in New Mexico, or LULAC, said it took the community groups a while to understand why the negotiations need to be restricted.

“The Department of Justice was afraid of potential lawsuits prolonging this whole negotiation process. Some of the negotiations [in other cities] have gone on for a year, year and a half, two years,” he said.  “They're hoping it doesn't take that long, but they said … as long as it's productive they will continue to negotiate with the city.”

A consent decree is a legally-binding agreement that’s submitted in court.  It will outline how the DOJ expects the city to rectify problems the agency found with Albuquerque Police.

Earlier in the day on Monday, nearly two dozen people staged another protest outside of Civic Plaza.  Among the group were some of the 13 people arrested last week inside the mayor’s office.

“The people united will never be divided,” they shouted.

“We've been denied to participate in, I feel, our democratic rights as a citizen of Albuquerque,” Bill Bradley, one of the arrestees said.

In Monday’s rescheduled city council meeting, council president Ken Sanchez ordered a protester to leave after he displayed an upside down American flag.  The council had voted to adopt new meeting rules after the last few council meetings were interrupted or cancelled.  Now, no one’s allowed to bring signs, props, posters, or banners to the meeting.

Arellanes said the DOJ plans to give community groups a chance to weigh-in on the consent decree before it’s finalized.  He said the DOJ is legally obligated to advocate for people in communities and will continue to welcome community input though not at the negotiating table itself.

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