Albuquerque Protests Trump May 25, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics.
Tags: #ExpropriateTrump, Albuquerque, Donald Trump, protest, riot, Trump
Folks here in Albuquerque, New Mexico held it down at the Donald Trump protest yesterday. The protest had a little bit of everything: signs, chanting, marching, love, peace, rioting, and mayhem.
It began like any other boring protest. We made signs, showed up, and milled about. I look the bus downtown with my #ExpropriateTrump sign. The only comment it got on the bus was from a Trump supporter who expressed the desire to build a wall and bring God back to prominence in the country. At the site of Trump rally, the police quickly herded most of us into a designated protest zone surrounded by steel barricades.
I took up a position alongside the main path into the Trump rally in the Albuquerque Convention Center. Both Trump supporters and stealth protesters were going into the rally. I held my sign and smiled/sneered at folks headed for the Convention Center. Combined with my queer/trans appearance, this was enough to enrage some of the Trump supporters. One of them yelled, “What’s with the dress, man?” Others expressed disgust. One offered me some sort of Christian newsletter, which I refused.
Next we marched around downtown. Most people on the street expressed sympathy. After the march I walked a short distance with a couple comrades, then back to the protest. Under a bridge we encountered three Native folks who asked us about the protest, criticized Trump’s misogyny, and thanked us for protesting even though we’re white like Trump. Inside the Trump rally, various folks rose up with signs and got escorted or dragged out.
At some point many protesters broke through the police line and got right up to the Convention Center. A band of heroes stole Trump shirts and flags and set them on fire. Some protesters tried to get inside but didn’t quite make it.
The cops came down on us after folks tried to get inside the Convention Center, pushing/trampling people with horses, including an elder with a cane. This made us angrier. People threw bottles and pieces of flaming material at the cops. The cops physically pushed us back with their steel barricades. I got pretty nicely squished for a moment during this process. The cops used pepper spray as well, which messed up the protesters who received direct hits. Street medics tended to these folks.
Protesters and police faced off by the Convention Center. Some folks periodically hurled gravel, rocks, and bottles. People took selfies in front of the police line. Security folks reflective vests from the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) repeatedly told people to stop throwing things, to keep the peace, and so on. Confrontations between these peace police and more militant protesters broke out. The peace police ended up winning the admiration of the police proper.
During a lull, a reporter came up to me and the two other people I was with and asked if we knew who threw the bottles. I told em no, and that we wouldn’t say if we did know, because snitching ain’t cool. My comrades were nicer but said about the same thing.
I thought it was over when we left the Convention Center area, but the protest transition to partying in the street and fast-paced skirmishing with the cops. Trucks, most sporting one or more Mexican flag, spun their wheels and burned rubber, making noise and smoke.
After a couple hours of that everyone went home, bodies still pulsing with excitement. We stood up to Trump’s quasi-fascist movement and Albuquerque’s murderous police department. Around the same time as we were wrapping up, in another part of the city, U.S. Marshals shot somebody to death.
This piece from KRQE describes the aftermath from the police perspective:
APD says its horses went to the vet Wednesday to be checked out after getting pummeled. They were all cleared by the vet and will be back in service Wednesday night. The nine riders who were on the horses last night suffered minor injuries.
According to APD, every police officer that responded to the violent protest was hit with rocks or debris. Six officers suffered significant injuries to the face, nose, arms and legs after being pummeled with fist-sized rocks. They were treated by rescue personnel on scene.
They say one Sergeant on scene was treated for smoke inhalation due to fires lit by the protesters. One Sheriff’s Deputy was also injured. There is no word yet on injury totals from the New Mexico State Police and Rio Rancho Police.
Two state police units were also damaged when people ran on top of them.
As you would expect, both local, national, and international media have made a big deal about the supposed violence of the protest. The cops are hunting for 30 supposed “thugs” who “perpetrated violence.” (Remember: No snitching!) In the context of pervasive structural violence, throwing rocks hardly registers. Folks have ample reason to be angry. It’s worthwhile to reflect on our tactics and who we’re hurting, as well on the question of mob mentality, but most of the moral outrage surrounding the protests is bullshit.
The walk-of-shame trick protesters used against Trump supporters is the same tactic that anti-abortion protesters use. That’s a chilling comparison. I think the gravity of the situation warrants it, given the danger of Trump’s movement, but I’m not sure. Ideally we would have shut down the rally by taking the space and insisting on letting Trump supporters know just how horrible what they’re doing is, with both kindness and intensity. However, that wasn’t practical because of police presence. In this strategic context, trying shame Trump supporters has some merit.
I’m more concerned about the borderline and unambiguous oppressive language protesters used. I’m not even really comfortable with the night’s “fuck Donald Trump” anthem, though in the overall context it’s more positive than negative. The word “fuck” is of course common speech and a fabulously convenient way to express opposition, despite its connotations of sexual violence. Using “bitches” and “pussies” as insults ultimately relies on misogyny and anti-queerness. I’m not a fan, though I know this terms have complex usages. Saying “Trump sucks cock” or calling the cops “faggots” gets into explicit anti-queerness. That’s not remotely cool. The same goes for fat-shaming and other insults based on physical appearance used against Trump supporters.
También, pues soy gabachx y no es mi lugar decir hispanohablantes como hablar su idioma, pero a mí no me gusta oír personas diciendo “puto” y “chinga tu madre” y cosas similares. Soy putx/jotx/maricón, más o menos. Trump no es puto, es opresor, racista, etc. (Ya sé hay un gran debate sobre la palabra “puto”.) La frase “chinga tu madre” apoya la violencia contra mujeres.
With that said, notably none of the protesters harassed me for my gender presentation. From the anti-Trump crowd I received only compliments.
I hope our protests/riots become increasingly sophisticated, embracing queer/trans culture and utilizing cutting-edge technologies to coordinate. I’m inspired by the passion of both well-known comrades and strangers here in Albuquerque. Expect to see much more like this in the coming months.