Albuquerque marks anniversary of Jan. 6 insurrection.
One year ago, on Jan 6. 2021, the U.S. Capitol was violently attacked by a mob of Trump supporters in an effort to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. There were rallies and vigils held across the country to mark the anniversary. Source New Mexico’s Marisa Demarco attended the event held in Downtown Albuquerque on Thursday.
KUNM: So, this event was billed as a "Day of Remembrance and Action." According to the website, Jan6UnityDay.org, close to 280 of these events were being held across the country. What did you see in Albuquerque's Civic Plaza?
MARISA DEMARCO: I want to say there were somewhere in the neighborhood of like 200 or 250 people on Civic Plaza. It was cold, everyone was wearing face masks, and kind of standing away from one another. So, it was a little harder to get a great count. People were waving American flags. They were signing petitions and hearing speeches, mostly around the idea that the attempted coup is still going, is ongoing. And by that, what they're trying to say, is that these changes in voting laws at the state level around the country that make it harder to vote are part of an ongoing coup, or an attempt to subvert elections. They also spoke about the ongoing spread of misinformation. The idea that the 2020 election results were not valid, that false claim that's been termed "the Big Lie." And as it got darker, I started to see more people with candles, remembering people who are hurt or who died in the coup and afterwards, to recognize the pain of the day. That stuck out to me because we did see some public officials downplaying the events of a year ago. So people getting together to really remember what happened is significant.
KUNM: Sure. It kind of shifted into a vigil. So who was involved in organizing this event locally?
DEMARCO: A man named Kenny Jones was introduced as the primary organizer. He said that even though he belongs to the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, he organized the event simply as a citizen. I think there was an effort at keeping it nonpartisan, focused on voting rights. His goals, he said when he was speaking, were to remember January 6 and to take in "the full measure of what happened." We also heard from state senator Harold Pope, people from a group called Indivisible Albuquerque, folks from the Peace and Justice Center in Albuquerque, and the campaign manager for Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. He talked about pushing back against changes to election laws and ongoing threats elections officials are facing around the country – changes to election laws, I should say, to make it harder for people to vote.
KUNM: And while they insurrectionists were supporters of former-President Trump, who still has quite the pull with the GOP base, did you see Republican lawmakers or voters out there standing against last year's capital siege?
DEMARCO: Because this event was very focused on voting rights and accountability and prosecution for the people involved in the insurrection, it wasn't really the kind of thing where people were displaying their political affiliation. There was a speaker that touched on the idea that people who stormed the Capitol last year were fascists, not conservatives, and that trying to subvert democracy isn't a conservative value but a fascist one. I didn't see any GOP lawmakers speaking.
KUNM: Okay. And of course, the insurrection was targeting federal election results in the U.S. Capitol, but was there talk of steps that can be taken here in New Mexico – whether at the state or the local level – to protect democracy and voting rights here?
DEMARCO: Yeah. There is support for the federal elections protections like the Freedom to Vote Act the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, potentially doing away with the filibuster if that's what it takes to pass those bills in Congress. They also spoke briefly about a bill proposed and announced by the governor and secretary of state that is meant to expand voting rights and protections. That news came out that afternoon. So, it was just something people were touching on, but maybe haven't heard much of the details there yet.