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.
Let’s face it— it’s been a crazy primary season. Some people armed themselves with hand sanitizer and face masks as they headed to the polls while others made use of their absentee ballots by mailing them or dropping them off at their respective polling places. Together, we adapted to a global pandemic and exercised our right to vote. This year, ballots are taking a little longer than usual to count, but we can already see that real change is here. Election Night Loser: The oil and gas industry.
**Trigger warning: reference to violence against black communities. Today we take a break from the usual weekly update to reflect on the atrocities of state-sanctioned violence happening in our country right now. During the past few months, as our attention has been focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, black families across the nation have continued to be murdered due to intrinsic, systemic racism, by the people who are supposed to be protecting them (police forces).
For those living in 1967, or those who were actually taught the history of our nation in school, it may seem that the events of this week are a repeat of the Detroit Race Riots in 1967, and do you know what? They are. The race riots in 1967 were triggered by police suppression and brutality of black residents of Virgina Park, much like the protests around the county this week were triggered by the tragic murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. History, in this case, is repeating itself because very little has changed in our society since 1967. How can we teach our children in schools about the “success” of the civil rights movement and abolishment of Jim Crow laws when our country is still lynching black people, albiet without literal ropes, but instead, knees to the neck?
In the last few weeks a total of eight Black Americans have been murdered by racism.
In the era of big-money Political Action Committees (PACs) it can be difficult to know what messaging is coming from which candidate or PAC, which is the whole point really. As New Mexicans have begun early voting (we strongly encourage absentee voting!), there have been tons of ads and stories about the big money trying to influence voters of every stripe. And while one of the bigger stories seems to be the war being waged between the campaigns of two Republican candidates for New Mexico’s Second Congressional district, one key factor we found seems to be missing from those stories.
It’s been reported that a PAC called Citizens for a United New Mexico is associated with some big names in the oil business here in the state, specifically Butch Mathews. The same AP story also lists a “GOP operative” Charles Gantt as being associated with the PAC as “Custodian of Record” and states he works with a company called Bulldog Compliance, part of a larger company Red Curve Solutions.
But none of the stories here in New Mexico have dug into who Gantt really is, and why his involvement in New Mexico politics is something we take VERY seriously. Gantt’s name appears on dozens of public documents affiliated with hard-right PACs at both the national and local levels.
A disturbing video has been making its way around the internet since the beginning of the week, after some high-profile politicos in the state finally made statements, media stories have begun to appear about it, but most fail to call out some of the deeper and more sinister meaning behind it. Otero County Commissioner and “Cowboys for Trump” leader Couy Griffen said in a recent video that (and we are quoting this historically racist phrase, be warned) “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” That phrase, originally coined by Civil War general Philip Sheridan about Native Americans and made “popular” by Theodore Roosevelt, is clearly hate-speech and a dog whistle for white supremacists. Even IF you were unaware of the historical context, the call for political violence is clearly unacceptable but in line with Griffen’s brand of far-right, alt-right thuggery. Griffen’s Cowboy group have made something of a name for themselves riding their horses and dressing in costumes around the country in support of Trump but specifically showing up to support the most extreme far-right policies of his platform like vigilante groups along the southern border and bringing guns to the state capitol.
With the 2020 primary voting season in full swing, progressives have found ourselves in a unique position of condemning the actions of not only the usual, right-wing, Republican suspects, but individuals running as Democrats as well. You may have seen the Santa Fe New Mexican article about the No Corporate Democrats PAC or our blog about a racist Bernalillo County Commission race mailer. This time, we’re bringing you information on a candidate for House District 50, Rebecca “Becky” King Spindle, who is running as a “Democrat” against incumbent Matthew McQueen.
Rebecca “Becky” King Spindle is the granddaughter of the late Bruce King, who served as a Democratic Governor for New Mexico for 12 years. With this family history, one would assume it safe to believe King Spindle upholds democratic beliefs as she runs for House District 50 as a Democrat. After doing some research, we are not so sure.