Robert Porchá speaks to a crowd of fewer than 100 people at the racial equality protest June 27 at City Hall. He said people must build up their communities to gain more equality. Photo by Amy Byres.

Another peaceful protest to educate Rio Rancho about systemic racism was held June 27, outside of Rio Rancho’s City Hall.

The protest continued the message from its last session, to provide education about systemic oppression in the Rio Rancho area.

An information hub connecting attendees to their local representatives was available, along with water and sunscreen. The protest hosted speakers and an open mic to share people’s messages.

Rio Rancho resident Barbara Jordan speaks at a protest to educate Rio Rancho about systemic racism. She said she was there fighting for her son’s rights. Photo by Amy Byres.

Speaker Barbara Jordan has been a Rio Rancho resident since 2015.

“I would like to start off by saying my life is not a political statement. There is nothing political about saying Black lives matter. It is a fact, OK. My life matters. Our lives matter. That is just the way it is,” she said.

Jordan attended the first protest at City Hall June 6.

“We are asking that you join as a society, as a group, as a humanity, to right these social injustices that we have been dealing with for over 400 years,” she said.

A crowd of fewer than 100 people attended the protest.

“We are not asking to be put above anyone; we are asking to stand beside someone. Who is going to allow us, Black people, people of color, to stand beside non-people of color so we can have equal rights?” she said.

The death of George Floyd evoked a yearning for injustice to stop, Jordan said.

Floyd was an unarmed Black man killed in police custody by then-Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis on May 25. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, until Floyd died. Chauvin faces charges of third-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The three other officers on the scene who did not intervene were fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Floyd had a 6-year-old daughter named Gianna Floyd.

“The young lady, the 6-year-old little girl who is out there protesting, she said, ‘No justice, no peace.’ And can you imagine having been 6 years old and having 400 years of oppression in your spirit?” Jordan said.

Sometimes people can get complacent because a law changes, but not this time, she said.

“This time we want to go all the way. No more. No more. No more injustices for Black people! No more systemic racism in our schools, and in the justice system, in jobs; no more! We are done with it. We’re freakin’ done,” Jordan said.

One of the main reasons Jordan attended the protest was for her child’s rights.

“Every time we walk out the door, we are looking over our shoulder. We are wondering, ‘Oh, is that a racist or are they not serving me because I am Black, because that is what we go through. You can ask any Black person, when did they first experience racism; ask them,” she said.

For her 16-year-old son, it was when he was 6 years old.

“When he was 6 years old and in kindergarten and his classmate told the entire class not to play with him because he’s Black,” she said.

Jordan said she didn’t want that for the next generation.

“We just want to live! Is that asking too much? I think not. Just to be able to breathe. To walk out of our house and not be paranoid,” she said. “To see a cop car and not get nervous. We can’t even walk out and enjoy our lives because every time we walk out the door, we have a target on our backs. It is different for us. It is different for my son, who is learning how to drive — has me scared to death.”

The first thing she taught her son when learning how to drive was his rights, Jordan said.

“I have the burden as his parent to try to make sure that my child comes home safe because his life matters,” she said.

Jordan said she knows many people are arguing with their family about the BLM movement.

“I know you have been reaching out and trying to make them understand what the issue is. Trying to let them know how Black people have been affected, how the system was designed for us to fail. I want you to keep arguing with them,” she said.

The response Jordan gets when saying Black lives matter is that blue lives matter or all lives matter, she said.

She said Black people are being killed at a disproportionate rate to white people.

Efrain Colindres speaks at the protest he helped organize June 27 at City Hall. This protest was not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter organization or the NAACP. Photo by Amy Byres.

“We can protest all we want, but until we have solutions on how to fix these problems, all we are doing is just stating the problem over and over again and nothing will be fixed,” said organizer Efrain Colindres.

Colindres and fellow organizer Sam Bjustrom are working with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to donate money. They would like the funding to help organizations like the NAACP and the Black Student Union, or help start programs here in Rio Rancho, Colindres said.

“Right now the biggest thing is to have a sit-down with representatives and the mayor and getting more funds to education in Rio Rancho,” he said.

Colindres and Bjustrom would also like to meet with the Rio Rancho school board concerning racism in schools, Colindres said.

The next protest will be July 19 at Haynes Park, he said.

For more information and updates on the next protest, follow Albuquerque & Rio Rancho Education and Resources on Facebook.

Activist Nicholas Soto spoke during the open-mic portion of the protest June 27. He said the Red Nation stands with the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo by Amy Byres.

National statistics

Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people in the U.S. overall.

In 2017,

  • 1,147 people were killed by police.
  • 13 of those cases resulted in officers being charged.
  • 149 people killed by police were unarmed.

 

New Mexico stats

From 2013-2019, police in New Mexico killed 142 people.

Black                   4

Asian                   1

Hispanic               78

Native American   6

White                    41

Unknown race      12

 

NM Race/Ethnicity in 2017

American Indian/Alaska native   9.1 percent

Asian/Pacific Islander                 1.7 percent

Black/African American               2.2 percent

Hispanic                                      48.8 percent

White                                           38.2 percent

 

Local stats

Sandoval County by race/ethnicity in 2017

American Indian/Alaska native 12.5 percent

Asian/Pacific Islander               1.7 percent

Black/African American             2.4 percent

Hispanic                                   39.0 percent

White                                        44.4 percent

 

Rio Rancho Police shot and killed one person that year, a Hispanic man who attempted to kidnap a woman and later fired at officers.

 

Sources:

Mapping Police Violence

NM’s Indicator-Based Information System

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Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer