ALBUQUERQUE: Sunday protesters attending an event titled, “We Can’t Breathe,” gathered in Albuquerque for what we planned as a peaceful protest against Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s mandatory mask rule and Mayor Keller’s support for her mandate.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) pulled together a counter protest, objecting to our use of the phrase, “We Can’t Breathe,” but that protest really didn’t get any traction until quasi Republicans publicized and tweeted about our event, alerting progressives to it (sadly, it is often those masquerading as conservatives that do the most harm).
Despite the fact BLM counter protest organizer Te Berry claimed he was angry because of the rally’s name, he also threatened Albuquerque’s Legacy Church pastor this past week. His comments, presumably directed at lead pastor Smotherman were, “F*CKLEGACY CHURCH YA I SAID IF…DELETE ME IF YOU MAD BOUT IT..I’LL SLAP THE SH*T OUT THE PASTOR.” Smotherman had been a co-sponsor or a ReopenNM rally and protest earlier in the week.
As the anti-mask group of protesters gathered on the plaza, APD warned us that carrying a gun on city property was against a city ordinance, and we’d be detained and cited if we were carrying, then walked away. As law enforcement left, a few BLM moved in to berate us, taunting those carrying signs for not wearing a mask and using the phrase “We Can’t Breathe” as a rallying cry for the protest. Each time BLM would accost us, police would come over and ask them to step back, but after twenty minutes of this routine, BLM came over en mass and refused to leave.
In one video, the BLM counter-protest organizer Te Berry (in khaki broad-brimmed hat), was repeatedly pushed away by members of his own group as he sought to confront, and apparently aim to physically attack, a man who declared he was a journalist (in yellow “pacific” shirt). Meanwhile, Te shouted “get out of my face!” to the journalist as he continued to advance toward him.
In another clip the BLM organizer Te, and two women, an apparently white woman who carried a sign “F*ck your white privilege,” told cops to cite my group for not wearing masks, saying, “It’s a $100 mandate!” The video also shows the BLM agitators forming a line so that police and all others could not get through or disperse them easily, while those behind them shouted at us.
Other members of the “We Can’t Breathe” protest added a video where a BLM protester states, “We’re the new police.” The thought should send chills down the backs of everyone, because without law enforcement, complete anarchy and a free-for-all would have ensued with injured people on both sides.
The last video I took of the BLM agitators, documents Te Berry yelling at my group as police stepped in, “Whose streets? Our streets!” BLM shouted. I can be heard in the video asking law enforcement if APD can protect us (which outraged BLM), and was told we would not be asked to leave. Then Te directed comments toward me, shouting, “You f*ckin’ Karen. You’re a stupid f*ck.” At which point I was encouraged to have my group cross the street (leaving Civic Plaza). Meanwhile BLM, continue to taunt us.
With no other option, I encouraged my group to retreat and cross the street. Because the BLM protesters were escalating the situation I could see we’d only get hurt by standing at Civic Plaza. We crossed the street. Even then, BLM agitators continued to eye us and picked out one lone anti-mask person who who followed at a slower pace during the exodus. A female BLM protester, who was armed at least with what appears to be a six-inch blade knife, chased and attacked a man with our group who was carrying a U.S. flag as he retreated.
Our diverse group of protesters attended carrying signs that called for the reopening of New Mexico, declared signs to be dangerous because they can set off PTSD and more. Other attendees carried U.S. flags, blue line police flags and a Gadsden flag. Others wore patriotic hats, and carried Guy Fawkes masks.