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Progressive group wants City Councilor Davis to resign

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Long the subject of conservative criticism, Albuquerque City Council President Pat Davis is now being denounced by a progressive organization he founded.

City Council President Pat Davis

ProgressNow New Mexico on Thursday called on Davis to resign his council seat and other public positions, accusing him of having a “pattern of racist behavior targeting Black and Brown communities,” and citing his past as a police officer, including an incident in which he shot a Black driver during a 2004 traffic stop, and his endorsement of a Bernalillo County Commission candidate the organization has accused of sending a problematic flyer.

“ProgressNow New Mexico finds it imperative to continue calling out racism when we see it and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions,” Alissa Barnes, executive director of the organization, said in a news release.

Davis, who founded ProgressNow in 2011 but said he left in 2016 after winning election to the Albuquerque City Council, called allegations that he is racist “laughable.”

The councilor, who represents Nob Hill, the International District and other parts of Southeast Albuquerque, said he has long acknowledged he was trained as a police officer to “fight the war on drugs and criminalize communities of color.”

He said the culture ultimately compelled him to leave policing a decade ago and pursue structural change, including through public office. He often references his law enforcement career on the City Council dais and has publicly spoken about the 2004 shooting.

“People know that (this racism allegation) is just not authentic,” said Davis, who served with the Capitol and Metropolitan police departments in Washington, D.C., and also with the University of New Mexico police in the early 2000s. “I’ve publicly talked about my own experience as a police officer and the wrongs and the way I saw the system.

“That’s what helped me do this job, and I’ve been good at it, and I’m going to continue to be good at it.”

Alissa Barnes

During his first term, Davis sponsored legislation to open police internal affairs investigations to civilian oversight and to decriminalize marijuana. He more recently introduced a bill to ban Albuquerque police from accepting surplus military equipment, and said his record demonstrates his evolution and commitment to change.

He said he has no plans to resign his City Council seat, which he holds through 2023.

A recent blog post by former city official Pete Dinelli criticized Davis’ law enforcement career, including a 2004 midafternoon traffic stop in Washington, D.C., during which Davis shot the Black driver, who had a gun.

Davis said he spotted a gun in the driver’s hand and lunged into the car to try to grab it. During the tussle, the driver hit the gas and sped off. Davis fired his weapon, striking the driver in the shoulder, then fell to the ground and the car ran over his leg.

The driver was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on a gun charge. The driver sued the city over the incident, but a judge dismissed the case.

ProgressNow cited Dinelli’s blog post in its new call for Davis to resign. But a spokeswoman said the organization’s current position is not only about what Davis did years before he founded ProgressNow but also Davis’ support of 2020 Bernalillo County Commission candidate Adrian Carver.

ProgressNow blasted Carver this spring for a campaign flyer on which he listed opponent Adriann Barboa’s criminal record, including several bench warrants for unpaid parking tickets and a cannabis arrest. ProgressNow communications director Marianna Anaya said Carver using the drug arrest against Barboa – “a queer woman of color” – while also promoting marijuana legalization was “absolutely a form of institutional racism” but that Davis continued to support Carver.

Anaya questioned Davis’ commitment to progressive ideals.

“I think that unfortunately Davis’ words do not match his actions,” she said.

Davis, who did paid social media work for Carver’s campaign, said he had nothing to do with the mailer in question but that he considers a criminal record for any candidate seeking public office fair game.

He said he sees no room to question his progressive bona fides, noting that he’s also co-sponsored sanctuary city legislation and the plastic bag ban.

“I have been attacked as the most liberal member of the City Council. … It just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

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