More than 50 people crammed into the Rio Rancho City Council chambers to argue their side to the argument regarding pulling certain books from Rio Rancho Public Libraries at the April 27 council meeting, and the argument didn’t remain civil for long.
According to the city, two individuals were escorted out by the meeting police officer. The police department did attempt to de-escalate a situation Thursday night upon direction from Mayor Gregg Hull when decorum in the Governing Body Chambers began to erode. Police officers attempted to separate two individuals, later identified as Michael Jackovich and Casey Robinson, that began to engage with each other as the meeting was temporarily recessed. After this occurred, Jackovich chose not to return to the meeting when it reconvened, the city said.
Prior to the outburst, Jackovich referenced an incident at a the Loma Colorado Main Library an August, where a teen reported pleasuring himself in a corral and said, “maybe he was reading this book” as he showed the council and audience “The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy” by Violet Blue. Jackovich called that man a pervert.
“What is next? Molestation of a child in a library by a lunatic?” he said.
Peter Wells, deputy city manager, sent clarification on that incident Friday afternoon: “The Rio Rancho library director did advise the library board at a public board meeting in September 2022 that recently there had been an incident at the Loma Colorado Library. A patron reported to staff that they believed an individual was looking at them and rubbing their groin area. The patron left the library and returned the same day with a parent/guardian and reported their experience. Upon this information being reported to library staff, staff began searching the library for the individual in question. The individual left the library when staff located and began to approach. Staff did contact the police department. The individual in question was never identified and nothing was captured on camera, etc.”
Jackovich went on to call the books “pornographic” and “satanic” as the audience laughed at him. Hull then tried to quiet the room and keep decorum.
Robinson yelled out arguing against Jackovich’s comments and argued with Hull, who was still trying to calm the room down. His words were hard to hear, though, due to the noise level of the room. As the room was in an uproar, Hull called for a recess and asked the sergeant at arms to escort the two out.
Jackovich and Robinson weren’t the only ones who argued their side with passion. Both state Rep. Kathleen Cates and Rep. Alan Martinez made an appearance at the meeting.
“New Mexico law Article 30-37-2. The idea that Mass Resistance is using this to bully our librarians and threaten our employees is just shameful,” Cates said as she addressed the council.
Mass Resistance is a group of extreme conservatives in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.
While Cates expressed her disapproval of banning books, Martinez said he doesn’t think this is a book ban at all.
“I think they just wanna make sure there are protections written into the code for children. I don’t want to see books banned. I grew up reading, and I still love reading,” he said.
Martinez also spoke about the lack of decorum earlier in the meeting saying even if people disagree with each other they should maintain respect and not call anyone names.
Democratic Party of Sandoval County Chair, Alexandra Piland, reached out to the Observer after the council meeting saying the party supports the US constitution, including the first amendment. Piland feels this push to remove LGBTQ items is just proving that people within that community haven’t done anything that heterosexual couples wouldn’t do.
“Not one of the pieces that was read by the hate group induced arousal, especially as read by the people who want to ban books,” Piland added.
She stressed that as long as the Mass Resistance group returns to push the removal of these books, the community members will be there to argue against it.
The full meeting can be viewed at https://www.rrnm.gov/2303/Watch-and-Download-City-Meetings.