ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When is a protest just a protest, and when does it become a political rally or a planned event that defies the state’s health order? That’s what one Albuquerque group wants to know, after the governor shut down their gathering Saturday.
The city of Albuquerque has seen its share of protests. One Albuquerque group says they wanted to add their voices to the discussion.
“New Mexico lives matter. Black lives matter. Kids lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Our addicts, their lives matter,” says Teresa Ruiz.
Ruiz and Josh Perez originally planned to have a peaceful protest tonight at the Al Hurricane Pavilion. However, early this morning, Perez says he got a letter from New Mexico State Police.
“I thought it was a joke. It’s the state police. We’re here to serve you,” he says.
According to the letter, the protest was labeled a “planned concert and mass gathering, going against the governor’s public health order. “This was a peaceful protest. I could’ve put protest in there, rally. I didn’t want to do that,” Perez says.
Flyers had been posted on social media, promoting the protest. A close look shows a list of “performers” scheduled to be there, and that’s where the planned event might’ve gotten sideways with the state.
Just this week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state would continue to allow protests, but drew the line at scheduled, political style rallies. “We are not going to use COVID or anything else to prevent a peaceful protest, but we are not going to let them be an excuse for political organizing,” she said on Thursday.
Perez and Ruiz say they were not planning on having any musical acts and these people were only going to be speaking, all while social distancing, wearing masks, and providing sanitizer. “We didn’t say we were going to have a band here for two hours. We were going to make this quick. 5 p.m., we’re going to be on a time schedule. 7:30, we’re out of here,” Perez says.
The both of them were left confused on what’s allowed. Ultimately, the protest was canceled for tonight and they hope the governor will lift some restrictions so they can reschedule.
State Police tells KRQE News 13 that the wording on the flyer for the event used the word “performers,” which they say is clearly a reference to a concert of some sort. Under the health order, concerts and similar events are forbidden.