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APD says it made ‘mistake’ in denying ACLU, newspaper video

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Police Department on Wednesday denied the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico’s request to examine surveillance data police gathered at Roosevelt Park on June 21 during a protest against the department’s use of force.

But APD spokeswoman Janet Blair said late Wednesday that police made a mistake by not releasing the video.

APD on Tuesday denied a similar request the Journal filed for videos and photographs police made at the protest.

Blair said both the Journal and the ACLU will receive the records today.

“It should have been released on Monday,” Blair said of the video recording.

APD’s initial refusal to release the video of the Roosevelt protest had contradicted what Deputy Chief Eric Garcia said last month. He said a plain-clothes officer only made a short video recording of a man at the rally who was suspected of committing disorderly conduct and that police would release the video recording.

In its denials to release the information, APD cited an exemption for records “that reveal confidential sources, methods, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime.”

By refusing to release the records because of that exemption, it would appear APD was conducting a criminal investigation into demonstrators who criticized APD’s use of force, Peter Simonson, the director of the ACLU-NM, said in a statement.

He said that would violate APD’s own policy prohibiting police from conducting criminal investigations of people because of political opinions and affiliations.

“APD has a track record of conducting questionable surveillance against community activists, and this lack of transparency heightens our concern that this type of behavior is ongoing,” he said.

Simonson’s statements were made before APD said the records will be released today. An ACLU spokesman could not be reached for further comment late Wednesday night.

Community members organized a demonstration against APD in Roosevelt Park on June 21. The rally included a mock trial of APD Chief Gorden Eden.

Reporters at the event recognized an undercover police officer, who had been involved in a previous officer-involved shooting, was at the event with a camera. Reporters said he appeared to be filming and taking pictures of the crowd, though APD said the man only recorded a short video of one person.

Garcia previously said there were five undercover officers at the rally, but only one of them made a video recording.

It was the second consecutive day APD made a mistake by not releasing records. On Tuesday, a clerk at APD headquarters denied a Journal reporter a police report. The reporter was able to get a copy of the police report Wednesday.

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