More than 50 people gathered outside the UNM bookstore Sunday evening to show support and solidarity for the victims of the violent riots in Charlottesville, VA. The event was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Stop the War Machine.
“It was really just a matter of time before this happened,” said local activist Torrance Green in response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend. “(These protests) are setting the trend and precedent that, ‘Hey, if you show up and show out nobody is going to stop you.’”
Participants joined in chants of: “Alt-Right that’s a lie, you’re a nazi in disguise,” “Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop” and “Bash the fasc.”
Sunday night’s event was held in response to “Unite the Right” rallies organized by white supremacy groups in Virginia last weekend.
White nationalists marched on the University of Virginia’s campus Friday night and continued protesting throughout Charlottesville Saturday. Nineteen were injured and one participant was killed Saturday when a man drove his car at a high speed through a crowd of counter protesters.
The UVA Medical Center cancelled elective surgeries as a standard precaution for such events that have the potential to result in mass injuries.
“We’re upset,” Green said. “We like to be at events like this and participate in events like this, because it is disappointing. This is what we are coming to, this is just the beginning.”
Green is a member of the New-Mexico-based activist group Black Ops, whose goal is to give back to their community by showing support for other activist groups.
PSL intended to broadcast the message that while the political economy may work, it works specifically towards the rich. One participant said that the rich use tools like racism to divide the working class, and that last weekend's events were a result of a fascist rhetoric.
“I feel that as a white person, I owe solidarity to anyone who is facing oppression,” said Amanda Fingado, a UNM senior and psychology major. “Obviosly neo-naziism, the Alt-Right exclusively, stand for holding other groups down to lift themselves up. It’s like their sense of self depends on destroying the sense of self in others.”
Like many of the participants in Sunday’s on-campus event, Fingado denounces the capitalist rhetoric of the Trump administration.
“I think (Trump) represents a sort of capitalist regime that I can't support,” she said. “His example has given a lot of hatred the opportunity to come out. Capitalism to me isn't entirely flawed, but I currently see it as a group of elites controlling and exploiting people who are in relative positions of powerlessness for their own gain”
Many of the gathering’s participants were “disgusted” by the government's response to the violent riots.
“This is beyond just a state of emergency — this is the climate,” Green said. “The state of emergency was too late. Last night when the group was out doing what they were doing, there should have been some sort of police action. There should have been some force to prevent that and stop that (violence).”
The University of New Mexico Police Department was present at Sunday night’s event.
“Police are supporting hate speech which shouldn’t be free speech in the first place, because it spreads harmful political ideas that can get people killed,” PSL member Dizzy Ethnam said.
Albuquerque resident Alan Senescu was biking along Route 66 when he came across the gathering.
“I really respect how quickly people mobilized against Charlottesville, and it gave me a perfect venue to express my feelings on a larger platform,” Senescu said.
Celia Raney is the news editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Celia_Raney.
Madison Spratto is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.