We want to reaffirm to you our commitment to calling out racism, systemic oppression of our communities, and right wing extremists. Period. Our families’ lives depend on it. We will not be intimidated into doing otherwise by anyone from the extreme right or from folx we still consider friends. That’s not who we are.
If you find yourself in El Paso, driving down I-10 from either direction, you can’t miss it—a 30-foot tall golden obelisk called the “Grand Candela” standing in the Walmart parking lot memorializing last years’ tragedy on the border. 23 lives lost. Children as young as 2 months old, to older folx, some of whom walked over from Ciudad Juarez for their weekly grocery shopping. No one ever saw it coming. Even with an entire year’s passing, it weighs on our hearts.
Three states, two countries, El Paso, Las Cruces and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico have always existed as one.
This series on Black Life, and racial justice is barely scratching the surface. A few resources for you to begin your own inner work are linked throughout this piece, and the hope is you continue to educate yourself. As this is a foundational way to eradicate Anti-Blackness, and racism. Let’s get into it:
From Columbus statues being torn down, along with other monuments that crystalize and celebrate the dehumanizing beginnings of our nation, it’s taken some time to collectively confront the deeply problematic history. Many BIPOC have had to celebrate their heroes beyond the one page granted to their culture and history as taught in school and the history books.
Arch Republican and avowed racist Couy Griffin has been invited to meet with Trump tomorrow while the President is in Texas to discuss the oil and gas industry as it tries to recover from being an outdated and overly-bloated relic of the industrial past. What do all these things have in common?
Well over the weekend Griffin, an elected official from Otero County and leader of the so-called “Cowboys for Trump” militia, recorded himself calling for all people of color to be dispelled from the United States and to “to go back to where (they) came from.” Meanwhile, Trump today is attempting to bypass the Supreme Court’s recent decision on DACA by directing his administration to not accept new applications for those eligible for the program. And like, you know, all the other racist stuff he’s done over the past few years… (well, his life really).
The story that other media outlets have refused to cover for well over a year now is the well-documented connection between oil and gas lobby groups here in New Mexico and racist, specifically White Nationalists, groups at the national level.
So while some racists like Griffin and Trump shout their hatred of BIPOC from whatever mountain top they can, the more insidious problem is where they’re getting their money from, groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power The Future, who together have spent millions of dollars to elect people like Griffin locally to support their industry with no accountability for their racist platform. We KNOW that NMOGA and PTF have also hired actual White Nationalists to manage their social media as well, through the guise of Harris Media in Texas, a PR firm that has been well documented in helping manage White Nationalist campaigns in Germany, Israel, and right here in the US.
We also know that at the national level, Power the Future has members of its board with close ties to Trump’s official campaign with access to literally MILLIONS of dollars to fund astroturf campaigns like PTF in states like New Mexico.
This isn’t the first time we’ve reported this but maybe while people are paying attention to the loud parts like Griffin yelling “go back to Africa” they can take the time to think about how all this is funded and works behind the scenes too. NMOGA and PTF aren’t operating in a vacuum, their membership includes groups like the City of Albuquerque and other municipalities in the state, so there are some direct ties to your tax dollars and how these racist groups are able to continue controlling government in the state of New Mexico.
2020 has exposed two pandemics, viral and racial. Both are disproportionately taking the lives of Black Americans. For four hundred years now, there have been two starkly different Americas. It is very literally Black, and White.
You may have seen the news last night or this morning that a judge has reinstated Obama-era methane rules nationwide effective immediately. While this is a great win, it’s temporary given the decision will likely be appealed and the oil and gas industry’s challenge to the original 2016 rule in the District Court of Wyoming will be revived.
At some point, we would love to see a strong, comprehensive federal methane regulation because air and climate pollution doesn’t stop at the state line, but for New Mexicans, there’s no time to waste.
Under guidance from Governor Lujan Grisham’s 2019 Executive Order, state agencies have been hard at work to craft a rule that would apply to oil and gas companies in New Mexico that vent, flare, or otherwise leak methane. Methane emissions aren’t just about the greater impact of climate change (methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the near-term at trapping heat), but also affect the air we breathe. Oil and gas producing counties are dangerously close to exceeding federal clean air protections for smog, and those living closest to development are more at risk of exposure to hazardous air pollutants.
One study found that this pollution was literally a matter of life and death to marginalized communities that live near active well zones. In a recent report from Energywire, there is a documented negative effect of rates of preterm birth among women in areas with concentrations of methane like the Permian or San Juan basins.
“The authors said their findings ‘suggest the effects of flaring on the length of gestation are independent’ of other potential health risks tied to living near oil and gas wells.
Well we made it through another special session of the New Mexico Legislature and a few weeks later we continue to reflect on the wins, the losses, and the absolute ridiculousness of some of the debates. While some important pieces of legislation were passed and a compromise budget was agreed to, there was a lot left to be desired. But we get it, the Senate specifically couldn’t do EVERYTHING on the table, they had to save THREE AND HALF HOURS to pat each other on the back and complement each other for all the work they haven’t done in the last 20 years. Sure will be nice to have new Senators in 2021 who seem willing to actually get to work.
If you’ve ever wondered why the NM Senate doesn’t seem to get things done, especially in the last few years since Progresive Democrats took back the House with such gusto in 2016, look no further than how SB4 was treated this past session.
SB4 is an election reform bill designed with input from the Secretary of State and multiple County Clerks from around the state. One of the major points of that bill was to allow County Clerks who chose to opt in to mail ballots directly to voters without having to go through the application process which confused and bogged down the system this past month during the primaries.
With protesters taking over the streets in the past few weeks following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, demonstrators have broadened their demands for justice to defund and reform police departments all over the country. With major cities like Minneapolis and Los Angeles seeking to defund their city’s police departments and allocate those funds towards departments like education and public health, the people marching the streets are pushing back on all systems of governments. Congress too, is feeling the heat— with a bill unveiled by the House and Senate Democrats. The bill, called the Justice in Policing Act, would limit legal protections for police and create a national database of excessive-force incidents as well as banning police choke holds. Locally, New Mexico looks to answer the call
Here at home the pressure on lawmakers has also been called for to institute similar measures.
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”.
You need to know that the Proud Boys are the same people as the Boogaloo Bois, are the same people as the NM Civil Guard- the people who protected their shooter buddy yesterday. The City of Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Gier said that APD will be holding the NM Civil Guard accountable “to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution” … but the Proud Boys are already designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center has done extensive pieces on the Boogaloo Bois- the armed militia group the showed up to “protect property” at a George Floyd Vigil in Las Cruces last week. These are the same people with the same ideals- to protect White Supremacy including the monuments that glorify it, like the Onate statue. Last year, we covered the Proud Boys and the Hiwaymen’s “flag-waving” rally in support of Trump, where shortly after the “rally” they pulled a gun on a community member.