KUNM

Albuquerque Protests Trump Presidency

Jan 21, 2017

In Downtown Albuquerque, street lights reflected off wet asphalt as a couple hundred nonviolent demonstrators called for political revolution. Their ranks swelled, and at first, there wasn’t a police officer in sight.

The protest was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation of New Mexico. Marchers mobilized through the streets, and diners waved their support as they passed.

Downtown demonstrators made a stop in front of police headquarters on Fourth and Roma, and speakers tackled Albuquerque's long struggle with police violence.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Police vehicles showed up in the distance, blocking certain streets. Passing cars honked their approval, prompting responses from the protesters.

David Slone said his goal was to connect with like-minded people.

“People who feel isolated,” he said, “that they’re the only ones that are afraid, that they’re the only ones that are angry at what’s happening, they feel connected.”

People like Brittany Emory. “I made a resolution to be more politically active starting with this year," she said, "and I thought that this would be a very fine place to start."

The police hung back. The protest was pretty chill, and nobody got arrested.

One downtown Albuquerque gallery hosted a mixer to promote equality, unity and local art as protesters marched outside. The Downtown Contemporary Arts Gallery offered respite from the rain with talk of perseverance.

Gallery manager Valerie Hollingsworth said she’s not happy, but she knows the approach her community will take.

“When there’s controversy in our government, that’s when the artists step up,” she said. “Art speaks out, art is valid. So I’m ready for artists to step up. Let’s take this thing on.”

The vibe was mellow. JP Eaglin is with Warehouse 508, which works to empower youth through art.

“Trump doesn’t phase me,” he said. “My people came from chains in this country, like nothing’s going to take me back.”

Eaglin said he hopes the Trump administration causes people to wake up “to what the truth is, what’s always been going on in this country, because this is nothing new.”

It’s not clear if President Trump will be supportive of the arts.

Andrew Baxter focuses on community building as a member of the Equalist Coalition of New Mexico.

“Everything is on the chopping block, and it’s a really good reason to be focused on local action,” he said. “What I’m looking forward to is holding onto hope, and for me hope, it’s Burque. It’s the community. It’s the people here.”

Baxter said people here show up for each other, they have each other’s backs.

Meanwhile, some water advocates escaped the rain in a softly lit yoga studio in Albuquerque. It felt more like a cozy class reunion than a protest.

Water activists Asha Canalos and Mark DeClaire join a circle of fellow We Are One River members.
Credit Anna Lande / KUNM

Asha Canalos is a member of the group We Are One River which was formed by local opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. She says they weren’t exactly looking to rally, but instead to find solutions in what she called the belly of the beast.

"It's happened. Trump is president now," said Canalos. "We’ll just keep meeting and doing what we can to try to protect the land, the water, the air, and the people that are part of our country.

Fellow member Mark LeClaire says one of the first actions the group is planning under the Trump administration is to send letters to the Bureau of Land Management to protect the health of rivers. 

"It’s not enough to just think that everything’s jacked up, we got to get out, connect and actually act," explained LeClaire. 

LeClaire said he hopes Trump’s presidency will serve as a catalyst to motivate more community involvement during the next four years.

Jean Pinto and Libby Branham attend a water advocacy group inauguration day event.
Credit Anna Lande / KUNM

Members laughed with each other as they ate together. Hope was the underlying consensus.