Man carrying swastika flag at Farmington protest sparks outrage

Coronavirus New Mexico

FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – A protest in Farmington organized to support local businesses has sparked outrage after a protester turned a New Mexico flag into a symbol that represents hate.

One of the organizers says this was all put on to support the small businesses in their area, as San Juan County remains on tight restrictions because of the high number of COVID cases in the county. “If the big box stores can open, and they were open 100 percent right away. Why can’t all businesses open safely? That’s kind of how it started, was just to help our local businesses, at least open a tiny bit,” said Shannon Carter.

Carter, family members, and friends who own small businesses organized the protest. She says several hundred people showed up and it was a good, peaceful protest.

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari was also there, taking pictures with attendees, however, he has said it was simply to keep the peace. But it was a man holding the New Mexico flag turned into a swastika, that’s been raising eyebrows. The sign says, “what’s next concentration camps?”

Carter says she didn’t hear about the man with the flag until this morning. “I heard that it was against our governor that she’s acting like a Nazi, or turning our state into a Nazi state. It wasn’t a white supremacist move, but I can’t speak for him. We didn’t invite him personally, but that’s what I heard it was about. We would never ever, ever support anything else,” Carter said.

The Governor’s press secretary responded saying it’s a disgusting use of Nazi imagery and rhetoric discussing the essential actions that have been taken by the Governor to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. It goes on to say in part, “I encourage those making comparisons to a genocidal dictatorship to stay home in order to keep slowing the spread of COVID-19 and read a history book.”

You can read the full statement below:

Large gatherings of people are not only currently not allowed by the public health order, but in a community with as much COVID-19 transmission as Farmington, such a gathering will undoubtedly lead to more illness and possibly more deaths. That’s extremely tragic. One of Farmington’s zip codes has the second-most cases in the state, more cases in one zip code than the number of cases in counties with many more times the population of Farmington. A gathering like that is incredibly dangerous. People gathering recklessly will spread the virus and needlessly endanger themselves and others. Forty-four percent of people who are infected with COVID-19 receive the virus from someone who is asymptomatic, meaning they do not know they are sick. I understand that people are frustrated with the economic effects of the pandemic โ€“ but in order to reopen safely we must continue to control the spread of COVID-19.

I am absolutely disgusted by the use of Nazi imagery and rhetoric in discussing the essential actions that have been taken by the governor to slow the spread of this deadly virus and save lives. I truly don’t have the words for people who think that it’s acceptable to take public health policy implemented to protect them and their community and compare it to mass genocide. It’s horrifying. The facts are very โ€‹clear โ€“ the governor’s actions have slowed the spread of COVID-19 in New Mexico and saved lives, as simple as that, whether or not people want to believe in the science or not. I encourage those making comparisons to a genocidal dictatorship to stay home in order to keep slowing the spread of COVID-19 and read a history book.

The executive director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico told News 13 “it’s disgusting suggesting that the extreme atrocities committed by the Nazis against 6 million Jews and 6 million others in any way related to the public policy during the COVID-19 crisis.”

You can read his full statement below:

We would not be available for an on-camera response, but I would like to offer this statement on the record as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico: โ€œWhile people will disagree about how to balance the necessity for mandated public health standards during COVID-19 and the serious impact these measures have upon small business and the economy, the utilizing of images suggesting any connection to the Nazi regime as a form of political rhetoric only inflames people across our community. More importantly, using such images and references to concentration camps creates a false and offensive moral equivalency by suggesting that the extreme atrocities committed by the Nazis against 6 million Jews and 6 million others is in any way related to public policy during the COVID-19 crisis. We in the Jewish community encourage everyone to avoid inflammatory rhetoric at a time when we need to work together and promote safety and empathy for all those impacted by COVID-19 throughout our New Mexico community.โ€            

Rabbi Dr. Robert B. Lennick. Executive Director, Jewish Federation of New Mexico

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari also responded to people’s concerns over his presence at the protest. You can see his full statement on his Facebook page.


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