This past Thursday, the head of Albuquerque's police union, Stephanie Lopez, was arrested on child abuse charges after her daughter complained to officials at her school that she had been struck in the head and face on Wednesday. According to published reports, Officer Lopez allegedly hit her child several times after the girl revealed that a utility shut-off notice had been posted at the family home, an event Lopez was unaware of before the alleged beating. After Lopez' daughter told a school resource officer that the union president had “repeatedly struck her in the head and face,” the matter was turned over to the Children, Youth and Families Department, which interviewed Lopez’ daughter; the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department was contacted and Lopez was arrested on charges of child abuse without great bodily harm as well as bribery, retaliation or intimidation of a witness. She was placed on leave Friday. The union president made her first court appearance on Saturday and was released from the Metropolitan Detention Center after posting a $5000 cash-only bond.
Video of Shooting Released
Last week, District Judge Victor Lopez ruled that the city of Albuquerque had violated the state's open records act, paving the way for the release of a controversial video that was taken last March 22 at Los Altos Skate Park. The cell-phone video shows a confrontation that left 17 year-old city resident Jaquise Lewis dead and six other young people severely injured from gunshot wounds suffered after a fight at the park. Police officials held the recording as evidence, refusing to release it to the public because they maintained that doing so would jeopardize their on-going investigation into the shooting. While the investigation points to Lewis as the instigator of violence that night—APD says that other shooters acted in self-defense, shooting and killing Jaquise after he brandished a gun and shot into the crowd—his mother, Munah Green is convinced otherwise. She maintains that her son did not possess a weapon and was murdered by a man who has been identified but not charged. The Bernalillo County District Attorney will make the final call on any charges related to the shooting, though Green's lawyer believes the release of the video will bring some closure to the family.
Tribal Food Crisis Investigated
This week, world news leader Al-Jazeera America reports on a continuing food crisis on the Navajo Nation. In a project designed to apply the United Nations' Millenium Development Goals to communities within the United States, the news organization has focused its investigative lens on events and situations here in the Southwest. Research indicates that there is a huge problem accessing and delivering quality food to almost 300,000 full time residents of the Dine homeland. There are only 10 grocery stores available to inhabitants of these tribal lands; 80 percent of the food sold there is classified junk food. This is perhaps due to the high number of gas stations and trading posts that fill in for real supermarkets in those sparse stretches of America where it's much easier to come by salty and fatty snacks than it is to find nutritious, fresh fruits and vegetables. Although tribal leaders are on board with plans to develop sustainable food production, it's going to be an uphill battle; UN reports suggest that Indigenous people account for 15% of the world's poor, a problem exacerbated by “the violation of their right to their traditional land and territories.”