By Deb Dapson
I was an attendee at the Changes Rally in Rio Rancho on Saturday, September 12, 2020, and would like to express my rally thoughts.
The Black New Mexico Movement organized this rally to begin a discussion concerning Black Lives Matter in the Rio Rancho community. When I arrived, I was astonished to see our planned rally of about 50 peaceful people entirely outnumbered by a cadre of demonstrators numbering 200 or 300.
As our speakers addressed the crowd concerning Black Lives Matter, voter registration, and filling out the Census 2020 form, the demonstrators made as much noise as possible. They were disruptive and contradictory, shouting “All Lives Matter” and “We Don’t Want You Here.”
For the first hour, the demonstrators stayed in the area assigned to them. As the evening progressed, the Wall of Vets, who had joined us to keep us safe, conferred with our speaker and advised they could no longer guarantee our safety. Quite a few of the protesters had brought weapons, guns, numb-chucks, and police batons.
We had asked our people not to bring any weapons. After two hours of verbal abuse, as some of us proceeded to disband, one demonstrator shouted, “Why don’t you guys make the first move, and we’ll show you how we get down!” The Wall of Vets and the organizers stayed behind to speak with the demonstrators. Suddenly the demonstrators surged into what had been “the Changes Rally area.” Concerned for the safety of everyone, the Rio Rancho Police arrived. The police were professional in their actions, quickly assessing the situation and brought order to this gathering. Thank you to the Rio Rancho Police for swiftly restoring order. Their efforts allowed the rally organizers to pursue conversations with demonstrators willing to speak to them.
I heard one of our speakers having a conversation with a couple of the demonstrators. This discussion made me hopeful that Rio Rancho can be a happy home for all citizens. As one of the organizers said, “We also believe that all lives matter, we just want to be one of the lives within that word “all.”