ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A recent Albuquerque Police Department effort to ticket people who are jaywalking through the ART lanes has sparked the ire of a local group that’s now planning a protest in response.

A community organizer, Selinda Guerrero says she and others are now planning a “group jaywalking” protest along Central Avenue this weekend, encouraging participants to jaywalk across Central at the downtown intersection with First Street.

Organizers believe the tickets are targeting certain groups of people. Meanwhile, the city says the tickets are all about safety.

People and cars have been an interference in the ART lanes since the bus service began in late November. The city has seen around a dozen car crashes with ART buses and around 20 drivers have been cited for driving the ART lanes.

“The route is set up to where people have to follow the law, and then everyone will be safe, if they don’t, then we might have accidents,” Mayor Tim Keller warned during a news conference on the first day of ART service in November.

Aside from drivers, in December, APD ticketed two people for jaywalking in the ART lanes near the UNM Popejoy ART stop on Central near University. Each citation is worth an $80 fine.

In both citations, the APD officer alleged that the offenders walked into traffic, causing cars to “stomp” on their brakes.

After KRQE News 13 reported on the jaywalking citations Tuesday, Guerrero began organizing a community protest.

“Why not warnings?” asked Guerrero in an interview with KRQE News 13 Wednesday. “We know that issuing these folks tickets is not going to save their lives.”

Guerrero believes the tickets are a form of harassment against bus riders, a group that often sees more poverty.

“This has been compounding and compounding, and they’re not the only two (people) who have been cited for (jaywalking),” Guerrero said. “We know that the targeting of tickets to communities who defenseless against them and cannot pay them, that to us is police violence.”

Guerrero hopes Saturday’s planned protest sends a message to the city about the placement of the ART stations and the practice of citing people for jaywalking.

“If they didn’t want people walking in the street, why would you put the bus stop in the middle of the street?” Guerrero said. “Why does it always become a financial investment in the city of tickets and fining and criminalization?”

KRQE News 13 asked Mayor Tim Keller’s Office Wednesday if it had any concerns the jaywalking citations were targeting a vulnerable community, as Guerrero has alleged.

The Mayor’s Office did not directly respond to questions from KRQE News 13. Instead, a spokesman for the city’s transit department responded, saying the goal is safety and they appreciate what APD is doing.

“With the ART buses now running along the corridor, our priority is safety. The last thing we want is a pedestrian fatality. There are HAWK signals and crosswalks at many of our ART platforms to ensure safe passage to the platform. We appreciate that APD’s enforcement for vehicles and pedestrians alike is in support of the goal of a safe corridor for all.”

Rick DeReyes, ABQ RIDE Spokesman

The city hasn’t said if it’s working on any other targeted jaywalking enforcement operations anywhere else in Albuquerque.