Feds’ sting ensnared many ABQ blacks, not ‘worst of the worst’

For three days Yusef Casanova hunted for methamphetamine and a gun. On June 4, 2016, a friend met a man in the heart of a hardscrabble area of Albuquerque pocked with pawn shops but dotted with well-loved front yards. They stood outside the Allsup’s convenience store at Zuni Road and Kentucky Street SE. The stranger wanted meth, firearms; the friend brought Casanova in. Like Casanova and his friend, the man was black.

NM In Depth wins top honors from NM Press Women, including investigative journalism

New Mexico In Depth won four 1st place awards over the weekend, including top honors for investigative journalism. The New Mexico Press Women’s Association conferred that honor on Puff of Smoke, a story reported and written by Jeff Proctor and published in collaboration with the Santa Fe Reporter. The issue at heart of the story was the investigative grand jury, a system Santa Fe District Attorneys used for years that resulted in numerous officers being cleared of criminal wrongdoing in fatal police shootings. NMID also took top honors in the categories of enterprise reporting, special series and website – as well as two second-place awards and one third-place finish. This weekend’s honors come a week after NMID won two first-place awards for multimedia journalism and general website excellence as well as three third-place awards in the Society of Professional Journalism’s Top of the Rockies regional journalism contest.

Cannabis advocates undeterred in face of federal threat

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said he would leave marijuana laws in the hands of the states, but his appointment of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general has created uncertainty about the future of the legalization movement. At a speech on March 15, Sessions made his views clear. “I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store,” he said. “And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.”

But Emily Kaltenbach, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico, said it’s too late to backtrack on the issue. It’s a states’ rights issue, and some governors have already pushed back at the anti-marijuana rhetoric, she said.

NMID expands legislative coverage with Melorie Begay

New Mexico In Depth will be covering the New Mexico legislative session with an expanded team this year with the addition of Melorie Begay, a junior majoring in multimedia journalism at the University of New Mexico. Originally from Gallup, Melorie wrote for UNM-Gallup’s campus newspaper, and volunteered at KGLP before transferring to Albuquerque. As a journalist she’s interested in creating informative and engaging content through all forms of media. Outside of journalism her interests include drinking coffee, listening to podcasts, and accruing random facts from the internet. Melorie will be traveling to Santa Fe with our current staff, Trip Jennings, Marjorie Childress, Sandra Fish, and Robert Salas, throughout the 60-day session, and will also do reporting from Albuquerque.

“We are all in the same fight as a people”

As tribal members dig in their heels to prevent construction of an oil pipeline they say threatens their water supply and damages sites sacred to them, a growing police action in North Dakota over the weekend has landed many of them in jail. Since the summer, thousands of Native Americans, including New Mexicans, have converged on North Dakota, heeding the call of the Standing Rock Sioux to protest against the pipeline construction. Liz McKenzie of the Diné Nation (Navajo Nation), for one, felt a sense of unity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe when she visited North Dakota in September, she said. The 2015 Gold King Mine Spill that contaminated the San Juan and Animas Rivers and affected agricultural communities in New Mexico and on the Navajo Nation made water contamination concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux more than a political call to action. ”It’s not even like we are standing in ‘solidarity’,” McKenzie said.

New Mexico in Depth welcomes inaugural student fellow

New Mexico in Depth is excited to announce a new student fellowship launched this year. The fellowship provides a two-semester professional experience for a student journalist of color involved with the New Mexico News Port at the University of New Mexico. Our inaugural fellow, Robert Salas, is a senior at The University of New Mexico, studying multimedia journalism and political science. Robert possesses a strong passion for many legal issues that face New Mexicans today and he hopes to attend law school in the fall of 2017. Robert is also the President of the Society of Professional Journalists, UNM Chapter.