As the threat of another tense standoff at an Albuquerque city council meeting brews, protesters angry over a series of police shootings are harkening back to the city's long history of civil disturbance and modeling their demonstrations after those including a notorious 1960s citizen raid of a northern New Mexico courthouse.
In 1967, protesters contending the US government stole millions of acres of land from Mexican American residents stormed a courthouse to attempt a citizen's arrest of the district attorney. During the raid, the group shot and wounded a state police officer and jailer, beat a deputy and took the sheriff and a reporter hostage.
Now a leader of this week's protest cited that episode as the motivation for the city council demonstration in which protesters attempted a citizen's arrest of the police chief.
"That's where we got the idea for the citizen's arrest," said David Correia, a University of New Mexico American studies professor and a protest organizer. He wasn't advocating violence, but a focus on civil disobedience, saying participants were willing to be arrested.
It's an interesting turn of events in Albuquerque, where distrust of the police department is at an all-time high after an officer shot and killed an armed man following a weekend Swat standoff. Police in the city of 550,000 people have been involved in 39 shootings since 2010 and are under tough scrutiny following a harsh report from the US Justice Department over use of force.