Last night, Camp Coyote was removed peacefully—and without arrests—from University of New Mexico campus by a force of state and university police.
Spokesperson Karen Wentworth held a press conference at the UNM Police Department station, where she said the university does not allow people to camp out. “We don’t let students stay here overnight. You’re not allowed to stay here overnight,” she said. She told protesters they could be at Yale Park between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Wentworth said Occupy Albuquerque demonstrators had been repeatedly notified over the last week. Many occupiers said they were aware the university had asked them to leave. After being removed from campus, one protester who didn’t want to give her name said “The university completely reneged on their agreement with us.”
A group trying to raise awareness about homelessness camped overnight on Johnson Field last semester. What’s the difference? Wentworth said the group “went through a pretty rigorous vetting.”
The university’s Facebook page was updated yesterday by the UNM admins to say “The Occupy Burque protesters do not have permission to camp on campus overnight.”
There were 63 comments on the post, most of which were in support of the movement. Some were vitriolic. One person wrote “Kick them out there starting to bug any ways WTF when did loitering become leagle,” and another suggested “give em the gas then bash their skulls in.”
So, a Daily Lobo reporter asked, if they were in violation of the policy then why weren’t they kicked out the first night? “We were trying to make sure they understood this was a violation,” Wentworth said. “I don’t know, maybe we were too patient.”
Desi Brown, from UNM’s Peace Studies Program, has acted as a liaison between the university and the protesters. He said last week that the group filled out a permit request to stay on campus, and under “contact information” they wrote that the only way to contact them was to come to Occupy Albuquerque’s general assembly meetings, held every day at 6 p.m. Spokesperson Wentworth said the university didn’t want to go to the general assembly meetings “because we didn’t want to seem heavy-handed.”
Protester and UNM student Jordan Whelchel said the university certainly came off that way by having the demonstrators removed. “I’d say that sending out more police officers than there were people in the park is a heavy-handed gesture, if I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “Coming to an assembly meeting to let us know some crucial information is by no means heavy-handed.”
Occupy Albuquerque moved to the parking lot of the Peace and Justice Center on the corner of Silver and Harvard to spend the rest of the night and reassembled today at UNM.
The protest began at the U.S. Bank across from the mini APD substation in Nob Hill, but after police cars blocked the road, marchers decided to move so they would be more visible. Officers followed the demonstrators as they walked east from Dartmouth and blocked off every intersection they came to.
Unemployment, the economy and budget cuts can be boring topics, but once you start paying attention, they're scarier than that time you watched The Shining late at night, alone. Instead of cowering in fear of a federal ax hacking away at social programs, the American Dream Movement will rally at Civic Plaza today from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The American Dream Movement, a progressive response to the Tea Party, includes MoveOn.org and 30 other organizations. It’s mission is to create economic justice for veterans, students and others in need. The movement grew out of the turmoil in Wisconsin and was named by Van Jones, who was the green jobs adviser to the White House in 2009. The debt ceiling deal and cuts to Medicare, education and transportation spurred a recent round of demonstrations.
“The priorities are upside down,” says Margo Morado, the council coordinator for the Albuquerque chapter of MoveOn.org, “Taxes have not been raised, and the cuts are going to affect the poor, elderly and disabled the most.”
Albuquerque's rally is one of 254 nationwide taking place today. Morado says 200 people have signed up, and she estimates an attendance of 250 to 400 participants. The demonstration will feature a reading of “A Contract for the American Dream,” a plan to get the economy back on track based on ideas from 131,203 people. The 10-point proposal was developed through online forums and house meetings.
Democratic state Sens. Eric Griego, Jerry Ortiz y Pino (an Alibi columnist) and state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas will speak in support of job creation and halts on spending cuts. In addition to policy discussions, the rally will also include poets, music from the Route 66 Revelers and a flash mob.
And here we thought all the eco-business was going to go the way of Martin Chavez-head bus decals when our former flashy mayor left his post to Richard Berry.
But Albuquerque is No. 10 on a 24/7 Wall St. list of the cities with the fastest growing green jobs. (Knoxville, Tenn., is No. 1.) From the article:
10. Albuquerque, NM
• Green Job Growth Rate: 7.8% per year
• No. of Green Jobs in 2010: 9,912
• Current Unemployment: 6.8%
• Peak Unemployment: 9.4% (July 2010)
• State Unemployment: 6.9% (14th lowest)
Albuquerque has emerged as a major center for companies that use green technologies as well as large manufacturers of green technologies, such as Advent Solar and Schott AG. Last year, “The EPA awarded $49,000 to the Earth Works Institute and the Gila Resources Information Project towards the employment of New Mexico high school students in green jobs,” reports New Mexico news station KRQE.
Unemployment is now two and a half percentage points lower than it was at the city’s peak, only one year ago.
Utility reps and public advocates trade blows on rate increase
By Sam Adams
PNM said it needed more cash—now. In the middle of a battle to raise prices overall, the electric company asked for part of that increase as soon as last week. But opponents stopped the measure in its tracks.
Michelle knew she was close to the edge, but she didn’t realize how close until her fiancé found himself out of work. He had been employed as an electrician on a construction site. When the project finished, he didn’t have another gig lined up. He searched, but two years ago during the height of recession phobia, no one was hiring. Suddenly Michelle’s waitressing income was the only thing supporting the two of them and her five girls, ages 4 months to 14 years old. A few months later, after falling behind on rent, they were evicted.