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The Albuquerque Police Department says a meeting in which officers asked members of Jackson Wink MMA Academy to help them de-escalate protests Monday night was not sanctioned by the department and is under investigation.
The meeting was caught on video and is circulating on social media. It shows champion MMA fighter Jon “Bones” Jones and others talking with several officers outside Jackson Wink in Downtown Albuquerque.
“We are investigating the circumstances that led to that meeting,” APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said in an email.
Gallegos said APD wants to “discourage groups, regardless of their intentions, from attempting to engage in a public safety role during protests and large gatherings.”
He noted that they aren’t trained and are “more likely to escalate tensions if they are carrying firearms and dressed like military or law enforcement officers.” Gallegos added that APD officers are trained and use de-escalation techniques to avoid confrontation.
He did not identify any of the officers in the video or say if any of them has been disciplined or placed on leave.
James Hallinan, a spokesman for Jackson Wink, decried what he called “false attacks about a so-called militia connection launched by desperate politicians.” In the statement, he also criticized what he described as attacks on their own police officers doing community policing, calling it “ludicrous and insulting to our community.” “Jackson Wink fighters are passionate people who don’t want to see Albuquerque businesses burned, vandalized and looted,” Hallinan said.
He did not specify which politician criticized Jackson Wink.
“Jackson Wink Academy and our fighters stand firm against the racial injustice endemic in this nation, against police brutality, against alt-right and hate groups, and against the horrific murder of George Floyd,” Hallinan said. “We are proud of our diversity and deep connections to communities of color around the world, and we are proud to support our countless law enforcement sisters and brothers who serve and protect.”
In the video, an officer is seen telling the civilians that they may be able to help de-escalate tensions with protesters.
“Take care of each other, and take care of the people in Albuquerque,” the officer says. “Some of these guys are dummies … I’m sure you guys can de-escalate just by talking to them. Obviously, with us in uniform, they think of us a little bit different.
“Obviously, if you guys see things getting out of hand, just give us a holler,” the officer continued. “… Don’t put yourself in a tricky spot.”
Jones says that if they’re “being more of a distraction than help,” they’ll clear the area as soon as possible.
“Just so you know, we’re not going to be having our guns out,” Jones said. “That’s not our plan.”
Neither Gallegos nor Hallinan said whether any civilians in the video or any member of Jackson Wink was armed that night.
Early Monday morning, Jones was seen on video taking spray cans from vandals Downtown. And Jones posted another video to Twitter showing himself and other Jackson Wink members on Monday morning helping fix the damage rioters caused Downtown earlier that morning. A spokeswoman for Jones did not immediately provide a statement to the Journal.