Woman claims City of Albuquerque employee evicted her because of anti-immigrant speech
September 05, 2019 10:17 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, NM.- When Mary Martinez spoke in front of the Albuquerque City Council on May 6, 2019, she knew her political beliefs were both unpopular and in the minority. She identified herself as a Trump supporter while members of the council heard debate on whether to fund Mayor Tim Keller’s Office with $250,000 to help refugees.
“There are illegal immigrants, ‘asylum seekers,’ that are coming in and raping our children and (they are) human traffickers,” Martinez told the council and an audience which booed her. Martinez also told the council that the money would be better spent on suicidal veterans.
“What I care about are the 22 veterans a day who commit suicide,” Martinez said from the podium. “There is no help for them. They have been begging for money and this city has been silent.”
Two days after Martinez gave her fiery, unpopular speech, her landlord, Alan Armijo, showed up at her front door. A Ring.com camera caught the interaction.
“You moving out?” Armijo abruptly asked.
Armijo is Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s constituent services director. Appointed by the mayor to work inside his office, Armijo leads the team that helps Albuquerque residents work out city-related issues.
When he showed up to Martinez’s home, he made it clear, he was evicting her.
“When are you going to move out?” Armijo asked.
“The lease is up at the end of August,” Martinez replied.
“No, I'm going to move you out sooner,” Armijo said.
Armijo brought up a claim that Martinez had fallen behind on rent, but Martinez was suspicious of his timing.
“I am a disabled, elderly, single woman,” Martinez told KOB. “I just can't pack up and move on the drop of a dime which he was demanding that I do.”
Martinez sued the City of Albuquerque and Armijo. She claims they retaliated against her for her political speech at the May 6 city council meeting. Martinez believes Armijo evicted her, not because of the rent payment issue, but because she opposed Mayor Keller’s political beliefs.
“One of the basic rights that makes America great is our right to voice our opposition to governmental actions which we oppose,” said Bryan Williams, Martinez’s attorney. “Whether or not one agrees with Ms. Martinez on this issue, they should be outraged at the city's retaliatory actions against Ms. Martinez.”
Williams named the City of Albuquerque as a defendant because he believes Armijo was working in his official capacity as a member of the mayor’s leadership team. Williams points to the time stamp on the Ring.com videos. It’s stamped 4:20 p.m., within normal business hours for the city.
The KOB 4 Investigates Team asked for Armijo’s time sheets during the month of May. The records reveal Armijo worked on the day he showed up at Martinez’s home.
“He came during work hours,” Williams said. “He was either on the city's action or he was on the taxpayer’s dime doing his own work. Either situation is wrong.”
KOB asked Armijo for comment, but through an attorney, Armijo declined an interview request. His attorney stated, “Mr. Armijo is too busy at the current time with his work to accommodate you."
However, documents sent to KOB reveal Armijo wanted to evict Martinez before the controversial May 6 city council meeting. In a letter dated Aug. 22, 2018, an attorney from New Mexico Legal Aid highlighted that Armijo tried to unlawfully evict Martinez around that time. When the city’s legal department reviewed that letter, the city determined the city had not retaliated against Martinez because the landlord/tenant issues arose before her political speech in May 2019.
While Armijo may have tried to evict Martinez nearly a year prior, Martinez believes her night at the city council provoked Armijo’s visit and reignited his fuel against her.
“He's never, ever, ever, ever just shown up at my house in 10 years like that before, ever,” Martinez said. “I was shocked and I didn't know why was he here.”
With a lawsuit now filed in court, a judge or jury will decide whether this is a case of political retaliation or simply a landlord trying to evict a tenant who fell short on rent.
Updated: September 05, 2019 10:17 PM
Created: September 05, 2019 07:52 PM
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