I was perusing ebay when I came across these photos for sale (so mad that I missed this auction - who bought them?) concerning a three day "riot" in Albuquerque in June 1971.

A google search yielded the very interesting recollection at http://www.jamrent.com/coa/riot1971.htm

In a nutshell: a series of misunderstandings beginning at Roosevelt Park (is this place built on Indian Burial Grounds or something?), youth and police bravado led to a 3 day "riot' where several business were looted and/or burned down. Several people shot (one innocent bystander supposedly killed by a Circle K owner or employee, the first business burned down), arrested and/or hospitalized. The National Guard was eventually called in to help the subdue the rioters AND police.

Amazing stuff, I had no idea. Do any Fixers have any connection?

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I think a lot of people in this discussion are combining the 1970 UNM shut down over the Kent State tragedy with the 1971 Roosevelt Park thing  I've watched people do this repeatedly as I've told this story over the years.  BTW, there were no riots at UNM although the National Guard did bayonet 14 or 15 people, some quite seriously, for the crime of not getting out of the way quickly enough.  One was Journal reporter who was injured seriously.

Good clarification of two different events.

I remember the riots; my mom was terrified that my sister was there with her friends. She also frequented Yale Park (scared the hell out of me!). That winter just prior to the riots my dad left us at Roosevelt Park with a sled and we froze! Little did I know that only a couple of months later that Circle K we waited in front of for our ride home would soon be gone. I don't think we went back to Roosevelt Park for a couple of years after we knew that it was safe again.
That was the summer between my fourth and fifth grade years - I don't remember anything about it. Of course, I was probably out riding my bike throughout the north valley's streets and ditches, or at a swimming pool. These were the priorities in a nine year old's day in Albuquerque.
thanks for that insight, Vince. ;)
I remember the riots. I lived down near the Library Main Branch on Central and Edith. Part of the rioters came down that far. I remember the Cadillac dealer on Central and University had huge plate glass windows that were all smashed out. We had heard that there were some teenagers drinking at Roosevelt Park and things got out of hand when the cops tried to arrest them. I remember the Circle K being burned down, but I don't remember anything about anyone being killed.

I was 13 or 14 at the time. My younger brother and mom were home alone and locked all the windows and turned out all the lights. I remember is was pretty scary.

It was shortly after that we moved to the Heights.

The Roosevelt Park riot as I remember it happened on a Sunday.  I had gone for a long midday bike ride. When I got back to my house on Maple, just up the hill form the Campus market—now DG’s—I discovered that my roommate had drunk all the beer and sodas.  I rode south across Central , right by Jack’s, over the hill, and headed for my favorite convenience store called  CeeVee  Liquors.   As I rode up the hill I saw black smoke.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got over the hill.  There was a melee’ in the park and a police car was on fire.  CeeVee Liquors was closed up tight.

I rode up to the east end of the park and watched it for at least an hour.  It was pandemonium and I don’t remember ever seeing a policeman except in cars that were driving by.  People were saying that the cops had assaulted some young people and that’s what started the riot  The police later claimed that some teenagers had thrown rocks at them when they took some beer away from some minors.  While at the east end I saw several people running by with weapons and one guy even had a rifle.  After a while one of the SDS types I used to see at UNM rallies  came up with a bullhorn and started talking about Vietnam and Kent State.  People started to boo him and some Brown Beret’s eventually took over the bullhorn.

At this point the focus turned back to the police and their treatment of Hispanics.  The mood escalated and talk turned to heading  downtown to the police station.  As people started gathering and walking west I rode back to my house and grabbed my camera.  I decided to take Grand Ave. downtown hoping to beat the crowd to the new police station on Roma.  I got there ahead of the crowd and I could hear them coming north on 4th or 5th from Central.  Before their arrival not a single cop was to be seen.  In the whole time the rioters were there no one came out of the building. A group of people rocked a police van until the turned it over and it was heading toward dusk.  

The rioters got no response from the authorities and they were losing momentum.  This is when they all started moving toward Central and the looting of stores began.  I rode west on Roma a little and south toward May’s Music because a friend of mine worked there and I knew Bernie May.  Bernie was sitting just inside the entry of his store with a shotgun in his lap.  I don’t think anyone looted his place that night but I did witness looting at Fedway,  Cook’s Sporting  Goods and many other downtown stores.

I had run out of film so I rode home.  As I remember it, the news the next day reported that the rioters eventually moved back up to Roosevelt Park and that sometime that night CeeVee Liquors was burned down and a bunch of cars at Galles Cadillac on Central and University were vandalized.   I believe the next day there were other incidents further up in the northeast heights near Hoffmantown but I’m sketchy on that part. 

In the aftermath of this event, the most striking thing to me was how the story moved away from the facts.   The conventional wisdom around town became that this riot was caused by anti-war protestors.   The talk in the smug Anglo community at that time was of outside agitators and Communists, the usual nonsense that surrounds dissent.  I think Albuquerque just couldn’t bear to admit that it had experienced a genuine race riot.

These photographs now belong to the Center for Southwest Research at UNM.

I had an elderly neighbor who owned a women's clothing store downtown (Little's?) that was looted in riots about that time. She said she quit the business soon after because she was so traumatized. Another aspect of the story.

Yes, I have an indirect connection to these events. My Father, Dennis Liberty, was one of the Student Marshals during the Riots. 

This was not a "riot". This was a riot with all the awfulness that goes with one. There are many perspectives to this very unpleasant event in Albuquerque's recent history and the Center for Southwest Research at UNM does, indeed, have a good collection of information, although it is incomplete. 

I interviewed my Father about this in 2010 when this post first appeared on DCF.

It's funny how this topic has burbled back to the surface on the Discussion threads. I don't even remember if I commented ages ago.

I've known your dad since 1968.  I was an art student too


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