Photo from the ABQ Journal
According to the US Census’ 2012 data, about 555,417 people live in Albuquerque. That’s about a quarter of the population of New Mexico. It is a majority-minority town and state. The state often markets its tricultural harmony.
Nearly 18% of the people here live below the poverty line. Starting police salary, without differentials for overnight shifts, is about $35,000 a year.
Several years ago, there was TV show called COPS. The intro song went like this”Bad boys, bad boys. Watcha you gonna do, watcha you gonna do when they come for you. Bad boys, bad boys.”
The vague pronoun “they” appears to refer to the police. Does the ambiguous “bad boys” refer to the police or suspected lawbreakers?
The show had a little film crew who rode along with the police and taped them making arrests. The crime series aired on Fox for 25 years.
Albuquerque has a lot of drunks and homeless people. Many people come into town and go on benders.
Since I live close to the Route 66 and the university, I’m near a lot of bus stops and places where people are allowed to sit in public for free. Empty, inexpensive pints of vodka litter my neighborhood.
Homeless people are often entering the dorms on campus and trying to sleep in the warm buildings, out of the wind.
Walking to work one morning, I encountered a man weaving his way down the street on a bicycle. He appeared neither homeless nor housed. “You have nice eyebrows!” he said as he wobbled past.
The drunks here are mostly harmless. Every few days, some Native Americans will catcall me in Spanish. (I am white; I could be Hispanic or Anglo.) They are just as likely to say something vulgar, as they are to offer some potato chips or ask for a couple bucks to get another beverage.
Part of the energy with the COPS show when it filmed in Albuquerque was that racial dynamic between the police and the people being arrested. Part of it was that the combination of characteristics was foreign to the rest of the U.S. In one episode that residents have shown me multiple times to explain the popularity of COPS involves a drunk Native American crossdresser in trouble with the police. For most of the country, this is a bizarre combination. It is a reminder of some social problems that stem from 500 years of colonization.
The TV show started filming here all the time. Every time you watched COPS it was taking place in Albuquerque. The mayor finally banned COPS from filming here—the show was giving the town a bad reputation. We did not appear to be three cultures holding hands and singing kumbaya.
In the last two weeks, the police have shot and killed two men.
One had his hands up in the air and was agreeing to come peacefully. He was homeless; they were arresting him for sleeping in the foothills. Read more »