On Saturday (Sept. 12) evening, I joined a group of Black Lives Matter protestors in Rio Rancho to show my support for their efforts to work toward equitable treatment for all people in our communities regardless of the color of their skin or ethnic background.

The members of the Black New Mexico Movement held the rally to encourage awareness of problems and adversity that people of color face daily in our nation. No one there came to there to shout ugly epithets about white people or law enforcement.  No one came to create havoc. Instead, my friends and I carried signs encouraging voter registration, and the speakers talked about the importance of voting and completing the census. These activities are hardly a threat to the city of Rio Rancho. Indeed, these individuals were behaving like responsible, caring citizens who were performing a community service.

Nevertheless, hundreds of counter-protesters swarmed in with blaring music and loudly revving motors. They began screaming hostile, threatening phrases in the direction of the rally attendees. One individual even attempted to drive his car through the gathering, but was stopped by one very brave young man who actually stood in front of the car! When it was observed that the counter-protesters brought guns with them, one of the protestors called the police, and the rally organizers asked us to disperse for our safety. Only then did the police arrive.

The mayor and the governing body should have been quick to denounce the counter-protestors for putting residents in danger and blackening the reputation of our city. The majority of Rio Rancho residents, I am sure, are appalled and ashamed of the behaviors of the rabble-rousing counter-protestors. My friends and neighbors here in Rio Rancho are humble, hardworking, and decent people, who would condemn that behavior.

Hopefully, for the next rally, more of these Rio Ranchoans come to lend support for individuals who are actually only trying to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Katherine Perez

Rio Rancho