Protests planned as Trump holds rally in N.M.
Some will be gathering far from president to avoid repeat of 2016 violence
The New Mexico Democratic Party and a coalition of liberal advocacy groups in the state have organized a series of demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s planned speech Monday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
But the anti-Trump events will be in Old Town Albuquerque, about 20 miles away from where Trump will be speaking.
Asked why her group decided to protest at Tiguex Park, far from the Trump rally, Marianna Anaya, a spokeswoman for ProgressNow New Mexico — which is participating in the coalition’s event, called NM United Against Trump: A Day of Cultural Resistance — said, “We wanted to make sure that families who want to go will have a safe place to go. We remember what it was like last time Trump came here.”
Trump’s first appearance in
New Mexico during the last presidential campaign, in May 2016 at the Albuquerque Convention Center, saw police in riot gear use smoke bombs with pepper spray on protesters who had gathered outside.
Many protesters broke through metal barriers and rushed police, some throwing bottles and rocks.
Trump’s next appearance, just days before the November 2016 election, was not as raucous, though some fights broke out around the hangar where he spoke at the Albuquerque International Sunport.
Anaya said some in the coalition also were concerned about reports that members of a farright group called The Proud Boys — a “Western chauvinist” pro-Trump organization that has been involved in violent confrontations around the country in recent years — would be at the Trump speech.
The leader of the New Mexico chapter of Proud Boys had scheduled an event Friday in downtown Albuquerque called Freedom First Flag Wave. However, just a handful of “flag wavers” showed up at the event and were seriously outnumbered by dozens who came to protest them.
Laurie Weahkee of the Native American Voters Alliance, which also is part of NM United Against Trump, said organizers were “deeply concerned” about the possibility of violence against protesters at the Rio Rancho rally.
“We are 200 percent against violence,” she said.
Other members of the coalition behind the event are El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos; Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice; Equality New Mexico; New Mexico Dream Team, NM Native Vote; New Mexico Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico; Strong Families New Mexico; and the Sierra Club.
Immediately before the NM United Against Trump event, the state Democratic Party has scheduled an event called New Mexico for All at Tiguex Park.
Miranda van Dijk, spokeswoman for the party, said Friday, “We wanted to create an entirely different feeling from the hateful rhetoric of Trump. We wanted to come and celebrate our diversity.”
Several party leaders, including U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, will speak at the event.
Trump is likely to face some protesters in Rio Rancho.
Several Trump protest events are listed on Facebook. Efforts to reach organizers Friday were not successful.
An organizer for one event page posted on Facebook that he and another man had met with Rio Rancho’s city manager and that the chief of police had taken him to the site of the proposed protest location.
“It is a large area close to the Santa Ana Star Center,” Gary Coffin wrote Wednesday. “I was impressed. Much larger and closer than what I was expecting.”
Protesters push down barriers outside the Albuquerque Convention Center during a campaign rally held by Donald Trump in May 2016. Some counterprotesters for Monday’s rally plan to be miles away to reduce the likelihood of violence.