The Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, was met by supporters and protesters in downtown Albuquerque Tuesday evening, where he held a rally at the city’s convention center. Demonstrators were peaceful, at first, as Trump advocates filed into the building for his appearance.
Albuquerque police monitored the Trump adversaries who were barricaded across the street from the center. But the mood changed after sunset. Protesters began getting more aggressive as chants of “F*ck Trump” echoed in the streets. The scene was a definite microcosm of the polarization and divisiveness across America that has overtaken the country during this campaign season.
The disposition of the protesters became even more vitriolic as the moon came up over the Sandia Mountains, east of the city. Many held signs with slogans against Trump’s comments and stance on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country – while Trump supporters shouted to the protesters to “give back your food stamps” and “get a job.”
“Voting for Trump is a vote for America,” said Leon Garcia, who was born and raised in Albuquerque. “I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. If we don’t vote for Trump, then we’re voting for Hillary Clinton, the one who is funding our enemies.” Others at the rally were not of the same mindset.
“Donald Trump is not welcome where I live,” said Lisa Gover, who is Pawnee and Comanche and lives in Corrales, New Mexico, a town that borders Albuquerque to the north. She is a registered Democrat. She was part of the peaceful demonstrations. “I think Trump represents hate. Donald Trump as president is a scary idea. He’s not a leader. He’s scaring all of us across this nation, and other nations, with his crazy rhetoric and his hateful speech. His nonsensical foreign policy statements are just irresponsible. He doesn’t represent me.”
“This is one of the most controversial campaigns that America has ever seen. I feel that if I don’t support it, then I’m not doing my part as an American citizen. This is an election in which I feel it’s my duty to vote,” said Garcia, who is Native American and Hispanic. “If we are voting for America then it shouldn’t be a cultural thing, it shouldn’t be a bigot thing. It shouldn’t be a race thing at all. It should be about our nation. I believe that Trump is trying to do the right thing.”
One of the most controversial issues facing the state of New Mexico is immigration, and/or illegal immigration. New Mexico, of course, straddles the U.S. border with Mexico and has the highest percentage, according to Census Bureau statistics, of Hispanic residents in the U.S.
“I’m here to protest the racist, horrific policies, the rhetoric of Trump and all the people who support him including our governor (Republican Susanna Martinez), who does a lot of things that are anti-worker, anti-people of color, anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican. These are terrible un-American ideas that have no place in New Mexico,” said Marcela Diaz, who lives in Santa Fe.
“Most of the polls show that Hispanics and Latinos are not for Trump, nor his ideas. Who knows why he came here. What we do know is that people in Santa Fe and Albuquerque try to be as welcoming as we can, but we wholeheartedly reject these ideas,” said Diaz.
“I’m here to support Trump for his presidency. I like the way he’s pushing the whole thing to make America better. He’s trying to make this country a better place. I like the fact that he wants to build a wall (at the U.S.-Mexican border),” said Adrian Martinez, a citizen of the Navajo Nation from Gallup, New Mexico. “The whole thing with illegal (immigrants) – everybody’s trying to turn it into a racial thing. I don’t see it as racial. I’m Native American.”
“We’re a country of laws. We’re based on that. To have all these immigrants [from Mexico] who are illegal, who are coming in; I don’t like that. We have people who have come in legally over the past several hundred years,” said Martinez. “Now we have all these illegals coming here and they’re taking jobs. I’ve lived here in Albuquerque for over 15 years and a lot of friends I have – Native, White, Hispanic – a lot of them have lost their jobs. Wages have gone down.”