All photos taken by Stephen Montoya for the Rio Rancho Observer.

Santa Ana Star Center was adorned with red, white and blue hats, T-shirts and flags worn by a mass of President Donald Trump’s supporters Monday.

Lines of Trump supporters swirled through the parking lot of the Star Center while vendors pedaled Trump merchandise and bottled water.

A large police presence surrounded the venue, which included a section just north of the Star Center designated for free speech.

Ericka Mitchell, a Trump dissenter, said she thought it was important for her to take the day off to attend this event and express her political views.

“I’m here to stand for love, tolerance, equality and inclusiveness,” Mitchell said. “I just don’t think that our president stands for that right now.”

Mitchell said she has never felt that Trump has ever stood for these things.

“Instead he stands for hate based on fear and ignorance,” she said.

Mitchell, a college student who works two jobs, said she is always looking for ways to give back to her community.

“If you are not giving of yourself and helping other people, then what’s the point?” she asked.

Mitchell said one example of how Trump differs from her point-of-view is how he is pushing for a wall on the Mexican border.

“I think what it stands for is hate and fear, plus I think that it is a waste of resources,” she said.

On the other side of the venue, Trump supporter Jeff Brown stands in the shade of large flags he brought to sell in commemoration of this event.

“This is my third rally… We have a lot of fun at them,” Brown said. “I like to support Trump because he is the only president that has done much of what he said he was going to do while running for office.”

Brown said he supports Trump on all of his platforms except for the building of a wall.

“I’m not into the wall; I grew up thinking that walls represent communism,” he said. “I wish he would go after big tech and their censorship instead.”

Brown said he finds Trump’s style of speaking refreshing because he doesn’t hide behind politics and tells it like it is.

“I don’t mind somebody with a big mouth that sometimes screws up because that reminds me of a real man,” he said. “I’ve had it with these professional politicians that give our country a bad name. Obama was a nice man, but what he represented was socialism.”

Photo by Stephen Montoya.


An hour later, the protesting crowd segregated across the street on the north end of the Star Center made its way to the northern edge of the center’s parking lot near a cluster of port-a-johns.

Orlando Garcia, who was one of the first protestors to arrive earlier in the day, said he came to express his concern about the anti-Hispanic message Trump has been spreading.

“He is trying to make us feel alien in our own home,” Garcia said. “This is where we are from; we’ve been here forever since before this country existed.”

Garcia said since Trump has come into office, he has heard things on the streets he hasn’t heard since the ‘50s and ‘60s.

“I don’t want my kids to have to go through the prejudice that I went through,” he said.

As the start of the rally at 7 p.m. approached, the crowd of protesters grew but didn’t get out of hand.

According to Sandoval County spokeswoman Melissa Perez, three rally attendees were arrested and booked into Sandoval County Detention Center. One was charged with misdemeanor battery, one with third-degree felony aggravated battery and one with disorderly conduct.