Aug 21 2014

Albuquerque Poet and Activist Hakim Bellamy on His Art and Politics – Part 1

Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the site of some of the worst police violence in the US, even though it is often eclipsed by New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and these days Ferguson, Missouri. The most high-profile incident took place in March when an officer from Albuquerque’s police department fatally shot a homeless man named James Boyd. The APD has killed more than 2 dozen people in the last four years – a rate that is 8 times greater than the NYPD per capita.

Now, after the APD came under federal oversight, it reached a deal with the Department of Justice to have a court and an independent monitor have oversight.

Community activists in Albuquerque have stepped up their responses to police brutality. They have organized in unique and creative ways including occupying the offices of officials, and creating a forum for ordinary people to express their vision of what a police department should be. One of those activists is Hakim Bellamy, the poet laureate of Albuquerque whose poem “Protect and Serve” has been widely cited as one of the best expressions of how ordinary Americans would like to see their police.

GUEST: Hakim Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion, and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico. His poetry has been published in Albuquerque inner-city buses and numerous anthologies. Bellamy was recognized as an honorable mention for the University of New Mexico Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize for his work as a community organizer and journalist in 2007, and was awarded the Emerging Creative Bravos Award by Creative Albuquerque this year. He is the co-creator of the multimedia Hip Hop theater production Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater that has been staged throughout the country. His first book of poetry is entitled Swear.

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