Policing the Police—After her arrest, Jenny Gamble headed home, changed clothes and went to work. She hadn't slept for 17 or 18 hours when she logged onto the Web and blogged about the events of the night before. Since that night, she's had more than 2,000 hits on her blog, she says, and people from all walks of life are writing to her of their own police horror stories. "The thing that's kind of strange about all of this is that I never intended to be a martyr for civil rights," she says.
Gamble, a local musician and Alibi contributor, was arrested along with bar owner John Montoya and his fiancée Camille Taylor on Friday, July 7 [Newscity, "High Tensions," July 13-19]. As outlined by a Metro Court criminal complaint, Montoya aggressively approached the police officers in an argument. As he was walking away, the officers tackled him and smashed his face into the sidewalk, Montoya says. Taylor and Gamble were arrested for "interfering with a police investigation" while taking pictures of the scuffle with a cell phone camera, according to the complaint.
Rudy Chavez, one of Gamble's lawyers, says they're investigating the merits of a civil suit against the Albuquerque Police Department. "Because of the no-settlement policy with [Mayor Martin] Chavez, we're trying to make sure it's a viable lawsuit, and at this point, we believe it is."
Waiting, Waiting—Alcohol and Gaming Division Director Gary Tomada is hard to reach these days because he's swamped, says Superintendent Ed Lopez of the State Regulation and Licensing Department. Tomada is weighing whether to enact stiffened regulations and bigger penalties for dispenser liquor licenses, including one that would revoke a license after two citations for serving to an intoxicated person within 12 months [News Feature, “Strong Medicine,” July 6-12].
"We haven't really touched the Liquor Control Act regulations in years, which is part of the problem," Lopez says. There were big turnouts to the three public meetings at the beginning of July and 92 exhibits entered, which means a big stack of paper for Tomada to go through. "It's not a body of regulations we can turn out the day after the exhibit," Lopez says. He expects a decision will be made within one to three weeks. Here's a breakdown of testimony from the meetings, according to Lopez:
July 5 in Albuquerque: 31 were in favor of the rule changes, and 32 opposed.
July 6 in Las Cruces: 18 were in favor, and 21 opposed.
July 8 in Santa Fe: 27 were in favor, and 17 opposed.
Civil Suit After Raid on Gay Gym?—The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) is no longer representing Pride Gym in a potential civil suit regarding a raid on the gym, says ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson [Newscity, “On the Back Page,” July 13-19]. Seven state agents from the Special Investigations Division (SID) and seven Albuquerque police officers are said to have burst through the doors of the gym that caters to gay men during a July 1 after-hours party advertised in the Alibi. According to Jim Plagens, SID’s deputy director, the officers were looking for alcohol and discovered some on the premises. Some of the 50 patrons, many of whom were naked or wearing little more than towels, were forced to lie face-down and handcuffed, says Plagens.
Though Pride Gym's owner Dave Bedford is not looking to file a civil suit, Simonson says the ACLU could represent a patron present the night of the raid. "We have grave concerns about the aggressive manner in which they raided the facility that evening, and the provocation for that, which in our view was entirely unreasonable. Officers feared sexual assault, because the patrons were gay," Simonson says, referring to a statement uncovered days later in a Metro Court criminal complaint. People are reluctant to come forward, Simonson says, because any civil suit puts the plaintiff in the spotlight. "People don't want it to be known that they were at the establishment that night."