This week, new details have surfaced regarding former ProgressNow New Mexico Executive Director and Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis’ shooting of a Black man while working as a cop in Washington D.C. Davis originally founded ProgressNow New Mexico but left the organization in 2017 and while his name is attached to the organization and its beginnings, we want to state clearly that his past and present actions are not reflective of ProgressNow New Mexico values.
ProgressNow New Mexico is dedicated to dismantling racism in all forms, to listening to Black and Indigenous voices calling for the dismantling of systems that hold up racism including defunding the police, and the prospect that centering Black lives should drive every aspect of progressive political policy.
“ProgressNow New Mexico finds it imperative to continue calling out racism when we see it and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions,” said Alissa Barnes, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico. “No matter who that person is.”
Part of our accountability work as an organization is to investigate bad behavior by bad actors. Unfortunately, Davis’ shooting of a Black man isn’t the only example of his troubling actions. A pattern has unearthed that continues into the present. After Davis moved to Albuquerque he had multiple civil rights complaints lodged against him while serving as a cop at the University of New Mexico.
Later, as he ran for elected office, Davis reflected on his experience as a cop, utilizing a “tough on crime” narrative, referencing his time as “zero-tolerance cop– the kind you wouldn’t want to pull you over”. As he ran for Bernalillo County Sheriff, his website highlighted his targeting of community members for low-level offenses, like marijuana possession.
Throughout the course of his campaign for Sheriff, Davis touted his leadership on the UNM police’s “eyes and ears” program in which he would train UNM staff, like custodians, to seek out people who look like they “don’t belong”- a thinly veiled version of racial profiling. In his run for City Council, his UNM off-campus raids led to settled federal lawsuits, calling Davis’ practices into question once again.
This pattern of racist behavior targeting Black and Brown communities should be concerning to everyone.
We want to make it clear: Davis’ case is not an issue of a “reformed cop”. In fact, Davis has continued to uphold racist institutions- most recently contracting with Adrian Carver’s June 2020 campaign for Bernalillo County Commission in which Davis supported (and at worst crafted) a racist, sexist mailer targeting Carver’s opponent, County Commissioner-elect Adriann Barboa, for the possession of medical marijuana. While the community and many elected officials denounced the mailer, Davis doubled down on his endorsement of Carver and once again upheld racist systems that hurt our families.
“You can’t lead a task force for the legalization of marijuana and simultaneously weaponize the substance to criminalize people who use it so that you can gain personal, political power,” said Barnes.
As a self-proclaimed “progressive” Davis is not exempt from accountability. Davis’ sustained pattern of racist actions over a long period of years has led us to call for Davis to step down from his positions of authority, including the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Judicial Selection Committee, Governor Lujan Grisham’s Marijuana Legalization Task Force, and his seat on City Council. Surely, our community does not need someone who routinely targets and criminalizes Black and Brown people to be serving on committees that select judges, decide the future of marijuana legalization in our state, or pass policies and make financial decisions for the City of Albuquerque.
There are calls for justice across the nation- some are met with hostility, and others with grace. We hope Davis chooses the later, steps down from his positions and reflects on how his actions are contributing to a larger system of institutional racism. ProgressNow New Mexico will continue our work, the work of dismantling racist systems, holding bad actors accountable, and being a leading voice in New Mexico for real and tangible change.