Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Roundhouse early Wednesday evening for a peaceful protest, the largest of several held in Santa Fe since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

The protesters spoke out against police violence in the black community, with some holding signs displaying messages like “Black Lives Matter,” “Prosecute Killer Cops” and “End Racism.”

They marched downtown and through the Plaza before stopping on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

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Whitney Stevenson of Marietta, Ga., addresses the crowd of protesters at the Capitol after they marched though Santa Fe on Wednesday.

“Systemic racism exists in all of us,” said Tigre Bailando as he addressed the crowd in front of the cathedral.

Bailando asked everyone to get on their stomachs with their faces against the concrete and their hands behind their backs.

A widely shared video shows Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck as he is handcuffed and on the ground saying he cannot breathe.

“Nobody should ever die in this position,” shouted Bailando as hundreds of people lay on the ground. “Nobody should ever die in this position with their body pressed into the ground with their hands behind their back.”

Wednesday’s crowd was peaceful, and a group of Santa Fe police officers watched from underneath the portal at the Palace of the Governors as they walked through the Plaza.

Mayor Alan Webber stood on a street corner as protesters passed by.

“People are out and I’m happy people are speaking up against racial injustice and I’m happy people are peaceful,” Webber said.

Webber said he is talking with Santa Fe police Chief Andrew Padilla and City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill to figure out how best to maintain peace in the city and also make sure people have the chance to speak out and “challenge behavior that should be challenged.”

“We’re talking about all kinds of ways to increase the levels of engagement and conversation,” Webber said.

While there were people of many ages at the protest, the majority appeared to be young.

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Noni Miller, a young black woman who lives in Santa Fe, said she was there to educate and learn.

“As one of the very few black people in Santa Fe, coming out to support my movement means a lot to me,” she said. “I’ve been trying to share as much information I can through all aspects of social media.”

She said it is difficult to talk about police violence against the black community, but she hopes to one day see a fair justice system.

“I think that the biggest thing is being able to look at the way the police and judicial system is set and how it was built against brown, black and [people of color] bodies and how we can break that down and rebuild that in a way that is more community friendly,” Miller said

As the protest wound down near the state Capitol after snaking through downtown streets, protesters encountered six armed members of the New Mexico Civil Guard — five men and a woman — standing on the patio of a building near Rio Chama Steakhouse on Old Santa Fe Trail. Members of the organization called it a “Second Amendment citizen militia group.”

“We exist to protect innocent life, liberty and property,” said member Nicolas Lomas, who was carrying what he said was a loaded .308-caliber bolt-action rifle.

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A group of Santa Fe police officers watch as people protesting the death of George Floyd march though the Plaza on Wednesday.

Though some protesters started to clash with the rifle-toting militia members, tensions quickly died down as protest organizers encouraged marchers to keep walking and Lomas and others explained they were there to prevent looting and rioting that has occurred in other cities.

“We’re here to help keep peace,” Lomas said, adding that their show of force doesn’t instigate violence but “deters the bad guys that infiltrate the peaceful protesters.”

“We’re just ordinary citizens like everybody else,” he said.

At least three armed men were also seen standing underneath the portal in front of shops along East San Francisco Street.

A man, who refused to give his name, wearing a yellow sweatshirt with a rifle slung around his body and a black handgun on his hip, said he would patrol the area until the early morning to make sure no one was looting.

The protest ended as peacefully as it began.

“[Racism] is baked into the system of education. It is baked into the system of the economy and property,” Bailando said. “It is the foundation of this country. It is up to every single one of us to commit to doing the hard search of digging inside, finding that racist seed and ripping it out.”

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(37) comments

Khal Spencer

Gee, I don't see a whole lot of social distancing in those photos. I'm shocked, shocked, that our Mayor, who is pushing for a city ordinance, and Governor, who is issuing executive orders against massing of people, are not both having a fit. Oh, that's right. Its liberals out there.

kyle renfro

Khal Spencer, you are right, and the police are knowingly watching them violate the "no exceptions" order, and so think of how many may be infected and spread the virus and may cause many more illness' or deaths in order to protest violence. HYPOCRITS the only thing missing is the mayor of Grants and the Jewlery store owner in albuquerque

Khal Spencer

My hunch is they are taking more of a risk by massing together than by jawboning with those few guys packing heat.

Actually, I would have loved to see a dispersal order given that would be challenged by the ACLU. First Amendment vs. Covid. We can't live under this order forever, virus or not.

Kathy Fish

But Alan Webber: Did you actually march? “People are out and I’m happy people are speaking up against racial injustice and I’m happy people are peaceful,” Webber said. Don't just talk the talk, Webber. Get out there and get active, otherwise your "support" means nothing.

John McAndrew

I participated in most of the march yesterday. Left a little early. It's interesting to see three groups meet whose shared purpose was to "keep the peace," though the two smaller groups (police and militia, in total numbering maybe a dozen or so?) felt the need to keep peace with deadly weapons. The main threat that the two smaller groups seemed concerned with was looting. Were they prepared to shoot people for stealing stuff? Why not bring saps? Or, more romantically and traditionally, bolas! That way you could stop the person who is looting without blowing their guts all over the Plaza, and be able to pose for a nice heroic photo with them.

More seriously, change is hard, but absolutely necessary. American culture needs to de-escalate, top to bottom. Three cops murdered a man in cold blood, in broad daylight, with another standing by, watching. And it's not unusual. But it has to stop. The protests that have taken place in the last ten days give me hope that America has not stopped trying to be better. Yes, the looting has been bad, especially as businesses are trying to recover from COVID closures. But those are small potatoes compared to the regularity with which black men and women are murdered by those sworn to protect and to serve – or by self-deputized, heavily-armed white citizens who think they have a right to shoot.

I applaud the protesters and the young organizers, here and elsewhere. Let's do better by our neighbors, and get about the business of de-escalating. Our neighbors are nice, and sometimes weird, but almost never warrant being greeted with deadly force.

Jim Klukkert

[thumbup] John McAndrew- Going High, ala Michele O. Thanks for your sharing, and your hopes. Folks like you, among so many others, are going to turn this darn trouble around, making a better day for all!

kyle renfro

whatever you do, don't mass gather to have a church service or MLG will shut u down

kyle renfro

i guess it means its ok to mass gather in violation of MLG pandemic order. If they would have been non protestors, MLG would have had them all arrested and cited

Jeff Clark

Such a good event except for the presence of armed vigilantes. We have got to get rid of these BS open carry laws.

Felice Cohen

Perhaps the peace was kept because there were people protecting the city in addition to the men and women in blue.

Maximum Tupler

Criminals get what they deserve! Regardless of color!

Craig O'Hare

And what, exactly, does your comment have to do with an article about a peaceful demonstration in our community against uncalled-for police brutality and for racial justice, "Maximum"?

Mark Ortiz

Which ever side you are on, I'd like to appeal to rationality. https://www.governing.com/topics/finance/gov-police-misconduct-growing-financial-issue.html

Jim Klukkert

Mark Ortiz- Great point, the cost of systemic violence!

Funny thing, Republicans and Corporate Dems never seem to worry about the cost of war, though they are very concerned for health, education and other social welfare costs. Now we see that for local governments, the cost of a violent war on the poor can force them to either disband their police departments, or be forced into bankruptcy.

We obviously need an entire new approach to law enforcement, and a policing and prosecuting philosophy that brings a higher meaning to "To Serve and Protect."

Thanks for excellent and rational input of substance, Mr. Ortiz. Would that all commenters meet your standard.

Khal Spencer

Good article. Short and sweet.

Andrew Lucero

Well, one thing is for certain... If things had gotten out of hand, those 5 cops on the plaza would have been powerless to stop it... And there is no way they could have restored order... Cudos to the Protesters for their discipline and for showing what a peaceful demonstration should look like.

Stefanie Beninato

Were these members of the NM CIVIL Guard--not National Guard--deputized? Were they hired by Rio Chama to protect its property? Are they lawfully licensed to act as security guards? Walking around with loaded weapons. pretending to be an authorized armed force-- given police brutality is being protested was just another form of alt right attempt at intimidation and confrontation Thank you organizers and protesters for not taking the bait.

Robert Bartlett

"Minneapolis, Minn. has been under Democratic control since 1978. Chicago has been under Democratic control for 89 years; its present mayor is a black woman. Philadelphia has had Democratic mayors for 68 years; three of its last five mayors have been black men. Six of the last seven Atlanta, Ga., mayoral administrations were led by black Democratic mayors, and the present mayor is a black woman.

A city runs its police department and other services; therefore, if there is so much ‘systemic racism’ in these organizations, why hasn’t it been corrected over so many years under Democratic leaders?

Why aren’t these cities garden spots of racial tolerance, understanding, and virtue?"

Jim Klukkert

Robert Bartlett- The answer is extremely easy. City governments have only so much power and authority. With Republicans in Washington giving away the keys to our nations collective wealth, there is little but triage with bandaids left for city governments. Some local efforts have succeeded brilliantly, many not, as such efforts are swimming upstream as wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a few.

I eagerly await your calls for Racial Equality, an End to Cop Killing of Unarmed People of Color, and so on. You know the drill, because you are one of the Hyper-Partisans Parroting Republican Talking Points on these comment pages.

All of which might be fine, if it did not further the gap that divides us. I see no effort on your part to understand why we are in the streets, on YouTube and everywhere else, mobilizing for change. Are you so privileged and isolated you have not seen the pain across the land, suffering by the many?

Thank you.

Robert Bartlett

Did you forget Obama? What did he do?

Jeff Clark

He instituted a system of consent decrees to make it possible for the justice departments to investigate police brutality and demand changes from the forces.

Trump's justice department totally defanged the system.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/justice-department-has-a-tool-to-make-police-forces-better-its-not-using-it/2020/06/02/96caf940-a451-11ea-8681-7d471bf20207_story.html

Jim Klukkert

Certainly not enough in some ways, including too many Wall Street types in the top levels of his team. Obama did try to establish Health Care for most, though again his effort fell into the traps set by Big Pharma, Big Medicine, and Big Insurance.

Don't worry though, Medicare 4 All on its way here soon!Q

On the other hand he did make efforts to bring this country together, despite McConnell's pledge to block Obama's agenda at every turn.

Besides the Wall Street influences that Corporate Dems suffer, Obama wanted to work across the aisle on many issues.

Don't worry, we will not repeat that mistake.

Felice Cohen

Stoked racial bias...oh and gave huge sums pf money (Billions) to Iran.

Emily Koyama

You and hiker dude Paul Evans dodged Mr Bartlett's point, that dozens of cities, run by Dems for decades, have the worst problems with gang violence, crime, and poorly run Police Departments, despite billions in Federal funds to prop them up. But you always blame the Republicans for your own failures, so nothing changes.

Jim Klukkert

Emily Koyama- So increasing wealth disparity, the movement of capital and power from the bottom to the top had nothing to do with urban difficulties?

I would also point out the Corporate Power Structure, including most Republicans as well as Corporate Dems, does not welcome the bottom up, local leadership which of course, is the closest eyes on the urban or rural issues.

Police Departments have a huge problem with their perspective and their culture. It is time to expand into popular media, an already ongoing national conversation about effective Law Enforcement. Great changes must be made.

Things will change, with a bottom up, peoples' mass movement for Social Democracy. The Pandemic and the George Floyd crisis have fully exposed the failings of unregulated Capitalism and bought and paid for government reps. People are beginning to move, and that will only accelerate into 2021 and beyond. As various communities rise, we will build effective solutions that Republicans and Corporate Democrats would never imagine.

I have no wish to ever dodge Mr Bartlett's points, as narrow and one sided as they often are. As I live and work for the historically less empowered, I do not take responsiblity for the failures of the corporate state.

Thanks.

Comment deleted.
Judith Senda

Oh Paul, life must be so boring to you, knowing all the answers without having to pay attention to facts.

Cancel Cancel

Bored? Never. Just this morning I had a nice, long hike in the woods with my dogs while you were probably still rage-watching Fox News.

Jeff Clark

simple answer: police unions. Ask the chiefs about the problems getting rid of bad cops.

Jim Klukkert

[thumbup] Jeff Clark- Sorry, I missed that one! The only unions Republicans ever support.

The one-sided Republicans on this site seem to need huge lessons in history. I suspect their ignorance is cultivated and very selective.

Thanks Mr. Clark

Harvey Wright

It's almost as if the entire political establishment in this country has been deeply entrenched in serving the capitalist structures that have profited from institutional racism since the founding of this country.

Craig O'Hare

You raise some valid points, Robert. But let's cut to the chase: Are you against police brutality and do you recognize it's a huge problem for African Americans? Do you support racial justice and want to help promote it? If "Yes", than let's not focus so much on party affiliation or the skin color of Mayors. Instead, let's all work together and aggressively to right the wrongs and ensure justice for all. Deal?

Felice Cohen

To answer your question, it is precisely because they are and have been led and run by Democrats, the Party of intolerance, racial injustice and deflection.

Comment deleted.
Felice Cohen

Neither is your lame bias comment. What original thought have you provided? Just name calling. Yawn!

Robert Bartlett

Virtue signalling.

Meanwhile "A New York City police officer was randomly attacked and stabbed in the neck late Wednesday while patrolling in Brooklyn, which resulted in a struggle that caused two additional officers to suffer gunshot wounds."

Comment deleted.
Judith Senda

More clucking relative moralism from Jim: Those officers don’t matter unless you talk about the protestors and bystanders being injured — maybe not even then.

Grow some humanity, Jim, and not just for the Left.

Jim Klukkert

Judith Senda- Those officers hurt or injured do count for me, and you are very wrong in your accusation. My family has been involved in law enforcement; my grandfather rented as Badge #5 from the CHP.

We are all about humanity for all humanity, unlike Bartlett who never rises to condemn Systematic Violence, nor Racism, nor the many ills afflicting our Land.

Your snide tone betrays your intent to opportunistically score Political Points from your position of privileged. With the building Blue Electoral Wave, one might think you would take a more civil tone. You will likely want some of your views to be accepted as part of the discussion of how we restructure this society. What cred do you expect when all you do is fill these comments with snark?

So Snark away Ms. Senda, build your recored of negativity. Take shots without substance at my comments. I will not further trouble you with replies until you prove yourself worthy of dialogue.

Thanks for the clarity.

Jeff Clark

What is your point? That because there are some criminals out there its ok for the police to do whatever they like?

Welcome to the discussion.

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