Alibi V.19 No.39 • Sept 30-Oct 6, 2010
Faith in the Force
I wanted to take a few minutes to compliment your paper on the copwatch story you ran [Feature, “Who Watches the Watchmen?” Sept. 16-22]. It was well-written and did a pretty good job of telling all sides of the story, without seeming to be either anti-cop or anti-copwatchers.
Policing the police is a very tricky topic, but one that must always be addressed. On that note, let me take this moment to also compliment the city of Albuquerque, as well as its police department. The APD seems willing to be watched, and even more surprising, they seem willing to take action against officers who may have acted inappropriately. I just moved to New Mexico this month from the big city of Chicago, a horribly corrupt town where police accountability is completely unheard of (do a search for bad cops in Chicago, and see how many stories pop up).
It has always seemed to me that the police should be the first to speak out against police brutality or other injustices. Being a cop is a hard job, no doubt, and it is made more difficult when the public doesn't trust or believe in the forces that are supposedly protecting them. But it is up to the cops to begin the system of trust.
In Chicago, there is very little faith in the police force in that regard. It is extremely common to hear stories about cops shooting and/or killing suspects, shooting them as they run away, beating and torturing inmates. And once the cops are off duty, it's 10 times worse. (Search for Anthony Abbate, Joseph Frugoli, Jon Burge or a number of others.) It is common and accepted in Chicago, with the mindset of "as long as they don't get me."
It's nice to have moved to a place where these issues are being addressed, not only by a great paper like the Alibi, but by the police force themselves. Kudos.
Love Letters and Hate Mail
Beth Love's overly cynical letter [“Your Only Vote Is With Your Dollar,” Sept. 23-29] basically saying it's useless to vote because they're all rotten is simply, well, overly cynical.
I'm a registered Independent who was one of the dumb-asses that voted Mr. Bush in by voting my conscience on Mr. Nader. Never again will I throw my vote away like that. Not that we would have been better off with Mr. Gore ... that's way debatable. The point is, I threw my vote away, along with a score of others who could have made a difference had they stuck to the two-party arrangement. Like it or not, it's the only thing on tap. You gotta work with what you got to work with.
I had given up on voting Democrat, which was my custom till Mr. Nader, because in my view they became even more corrupt than the Republicans. I had my heart set on Ms. Martinez until I learned that she's anti-film industry, anti-medical marijuana, anti-keeping kids out of the criminal justice system, in short way too far right on too many important issues. Just seems kinda ruthless. I am going to vote AGAINST [Susana] Martinez by voting FOR Diane Denish. At least I know I can count on Ms. Denish to be kind and reasonable, especially with our young people and our mentally challenged people.
I was not one of the delusional, gullible dumb-a--es that fell for Mr. Obama's con, so I'm not at all disillusioned by this administration. Ms. Love said, "the change we voted for," so I assume she was one of the dumb-a--es that put these lying thieves in office. In which case I have to say, Hey, you got what you asked for. You fell for the CON. This time, if the issues are important to you, get your dumb-a-- out and VOTE! If you can't vote ... do your part to encourage everyone to VOTE. Bill Clinton made one of the most important points for these upcoming elections. His biggest fear was from the apathetic and disillusioned people that came out in force for Mr. Obama to put him over the top. That charismatic con is gone this time around, and the Democrats need every vote they can scrape up.
Jon Stewart's Rally for Reason
Come on Albuquerqueans! Let's support Stewart and Colbert in a national call for reason and sanity in politics. Can't scrape up the funds to fly to D.C. on Oct. 30? Join me at the corner of University and Central and let's have our own Rally for Reason.
Freaks of Nature
I almost became physically sick at the State Fair this year. It wasn’t because I overdosed on popcorn, funnel cake and turkey legs—it’s because there were actually booths of human exploitation scattered all throughout the fair!
Between the “world’s smallest lady” (a small Haitian woman who spoke little English) and the “snake woman” (she was caged!) I nearly burst out in frustration. When did it become in vogue to treat people like animals—to put them on display for people to PAY and WATCH? Pretty sure we dubbed that inhumane a century or two ago.
That same sort of exploitation is happening to our environment, too. Coal and oil companies are spewing carbon and greenhouse gas pollution out of their smokestacks willy-nilly, making a mockery of climate change, human health and any sort of clean energy future. That’s why our state representatives need to oppose any proposals that let global warming polluters off the hook by stripping down the Clean Air Act—a law with a 40-year track record of cutting dangerous pollution and protecting the environment.
To be blunt, I don’t care how much money the New Mexico State Fair OR big oil and coal companies need to generate this year—human and environmental exploitation should never be used as a means to ANY end.
A Truly Independent Judiciary
Friday [Sept. 17], Judge Kenneth Martinez reduced the bond of William Westfall from $250,000 (cash only) to $150,000 cash or surety. Also, Judge Martinez approved a furlough permitting Westfall to attend his brother’s funeral. Westfall stands accused of firing a non-fatal shot that struck a deputy during the execution of a "high-risk" arrest warrant. The deputy was treated and released from the hospital that same day. The judge's decision set off a firestorm of criticism, most of which was orchestrated by Darren White on his Saturday radio show. White repeatedly provided the judge’s phone number, and encouraged his listeners to barrage Judge Martinez with calls demanding that he reverse his orders.
Despite the fact that the state was accorded a reasonable opportunity to express any concerns the preceding Friday, Judge Denise Barela Shepherd hastily convened an emergency hearing on Monday. Judge Barela Shepherd increased Westfall’s bond to $250,000 cash only, and rescinded the furlough order. As a result, Westfall was immediately taken back into custody. An extraordinarily high cash-only bond is intended to keep the accused person in custody. Such an action is a judge's cleaver means of circumventing our state constitution's requirement that in cases such as Westfall's, bail must be set.
It is apparent that White and his backers don’t believe an accused person is entitled to reasonable bail, and presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It does not matter to White that the $150,000 bond set by Judge Martinez is a significant sum of money. More disturbing is that it does not matter to White that Judge Martinez is obligated by his oath of office to follow Rule 5-401 NMRA. Rule 5-401 provides that the primary consideration for a judge to when establishing the amount of bail is the sum necessary to reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance and participation at trial. Many of us often bemoan the fact that judges too often cave when high-profile cases are manipulated in the media. Now it is time for those that believe in due process and the rule of law to defend Judge Martinez’ integrity, and preservation of an independent judiciary.
Darren White’s actions and comments on his radio show were intended serve as a warning to all judges that he will use his access to the airwaves to incite anger against any judge that dares to issue orders he disagrees with. It is troubling that Darren White has chosen to conduct himself in such an irresponsible manner. The ultimate result is that the public's confidence in Judge Martinez has been undermined, and the independence of the judiciary is under direct assault as a result of White’s actions.
From Mexico's Perspective
In addition to my agreeing with 100 percent of what Judge Gray states [News, “A Soldier in the Drug War Switches Sides,” Sept. 23-29], there are two other huge costs Judge Gray did not get a chance to comment on.
Our failed social policy is full of hypocriticism and it persecutes citizens of Mexico who do not participate in the business. Our federal government is giving high powered and high technological weaponry to the Mexican government, and at the same time our U.S. citizens are funding the weapons which again our U.S. gun law and/or gun law enforcement allows to flow south by the thousands. The end effect on the citizenry of Mexico is fear to leave your house, to stay out past dark or to travel anywhere but only the most familiar places. The end result is that the Mexican citizenry can not afford to trust their elected officials, police, or public servants. And all of this is because of two policies the U.S. government upholds that create a mecca of profit potential for criminals, and a mecca of guns flowing south.
Our taxes will be much, much, more efficiently and well put to use the day we follow Judge Gray's advise and start rehabilitating instead of caging people and making the weaponry and defense manufacturers more profitable than they always have been.
To Each His Own
[Re: News, “A Soldier in the Drug War Switches Sides,” Sept. 23-29] This country didn't really learn anything from prohibition huh?
Way back in the 1920s and '30s they tried making alcohol illegal and the ensuing crime wave was devastating. "Blood in the streets" and tax evasion became ways of life for many otherwise decent and law-abiding Americans.
Weed is a lot less harmful than alcohol and should have never been demonized into illegality the way it was. Other drugs are possibly more dangerous than alcohol, but this isn't the point needing scrutiny. The mere fact that our government is telling us citizens how we may enjoy our "liberty" is ludicrous.
Parents warn their children about the irresponsible consumption of alcohol and they should also be warning their kids properly about the irresponsible consumption of ALL drugs—period. The habit-forming natures of some drugs are worse than others, but it should be the individual’s RIGHT TO LIBERTY that is not infringed upon.
The biggest reason drugs are illegal south of the border is because the USA has strong-armed these countries into compliance with our "legal strategy" making drugs illegal. If the USA were to legalize the drug business and regulate it like alcohol, the money saved from imprisonment alone could easily pay for treatment programs. This doesn't include the taxes the government could collect. South of our border, the ripple effect would take the big money from the cartels and either turn them into farmers or send them packing to a different crime that the government would now have the resources to fight.
Every Body's Got One
While I respect Mr. Bear's approach to morality and this exhibit [ Bodies ... The Exhibition, reviewed Sept. 23-29], I'd like to point out that many people agree to science's use of their bodies as he correctly cites. Also, we bury, cremate, and do sky burial (Tibet), this way of use seems to be respectful, not to mention better than the days of olds cadaver studies in hot, open galleries with crude instruments. We are curious creatures and seem to need stark evidence of reality, this show seems to accomplish that although I do find the poses a bit contrived and ultimately unhelpful.
Couldn't Agree More!
Summer, you hit the nail on the head with this one [Music preview, Non Stop Bhangra, Sept. 23-29]! I have been nurturing a secretly thrilling and shameful obsession with Bhangra for about a year now. My daughter and I put it on top volume when no one is around and dance our butts off. Yet we get teased anytime someone finds the disc in the CD player.
Lets start a band!
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