A group calling for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s removal from office says it will protest outside the Roundhouse for days or even weeks until its grievances are heard.
Organizers of I Will not comply NM say they will gather Sunday at the Capitol and lock the doors to the building from the outside as a symbolic gesture. They are calling their demonstration “Shut Down the Capital.”
“This isn’t about Republicans. It isn’t about Democrats. It isn’t about COVID. It isn’t about masks. It’s about the Constitution,” said Stephen Garrett, a small-business owner in Moriarty who founded the group in 2019.
Garrett said the governor violated the First and Second amendments by closing churches and gun stores during the onset of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“I have contacted the Department of Justice and White House numerous times asking for intervention,” he said, but they have not responded.
“I don’t understand how you can subvert the Constitution of the United States,” he added. “It’s the founding document, the founding laws of our country.”
The planned protest comes during a time of social unrest across the country. Many demonstrations have centered on police brutality following the death of George Floyd, who died two months ago in Minneapolis while in police custody.
In response, the Trump administration has sent federal agents to Portland, Ore., and other cities to help local police maintain order.
Garrett said he started his group in response to New Mexico’s “red-flag” legislation, which Lujan Grisham signed into law earlier this year. It gives officers the power to seek a court order to temporarily take firearms and ammunition away from a person who is found to pose a threat.
Garrett called the law “an attack on the Second Amendment.”
After that, “it’s just been one transgression after another,” he said of Lujan Grisham’s administration.
When asked about the group and its plans to protest indefinitely at the Roundhouse, Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office, said: “Sounds like an irresponsible, unserious and dangerous group and nonstory to amplify.”
Garrett insisted that’s not the case. He said protesters won’t enter the Roundhouse or try to occupy the building, but they won’t leave until the federal government redresses their grievances.
“We don’t want any trouble. We are peacefully protesting for our rights,” he said, adding, “There will be no damage to that building or the grounds.”
As of Friday afternoon, 23 people said they would take part in the protest and 258 said they were interested in participating, according to the group’s Facebook page. Garrett said the turnout could be as high as 1,000 people.
He said the group has acquired portable toilets “so that the grounds will be kept pristine. Anything brought in will be taken out.”
Protesters plan to stay at the Capitol at least 30 days, according to the group’s Facebook page.
“It’s come to this,” Garrett said. “Either we have a Constitution or we don’t.”