Confederate Markers Removed From NM Rest Areas, Protestors Block ABQ Streets Over Transgender Death

Aug 27, 2018

Confederate Markers Removed From New Mexico Rest Areas- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico officials say the last remaining memorials to Confederate President Jefferson Davis have been removed from New Mexico rest areas along Interstate 10, the main east-west route across the state.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state Department of Transportation announced last week all memorials to the U.S. Civil War-era Confederacy were removed after people posted messages about them on social media.

The move comes amid a national U.S. debate over removing the names of Confederate leaders from public roads and buildings.

New Mexico was the site of the Battle of Glorieta Pass, when Hispanic Union soldiers beat back the Confederate Army.

It is often called the "Gettysburg of the West."

New Mexico also has counties named for Abraham Lincoln, Schuyler Colfax, Ulysses Grant, Jose Francisco Chaves and Joseph Calloway Lea.

Protesters Block Albuquerque Streets Over Transgender Death- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Several demonstrators protesting the death of a Honduran transgender woman blocked traffic in  Albuquerque Monday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports more than 50 people stood Monday morning in front of the federal courthouse with signs calling for justice for Roxsana Hernandez.

The activists also called on abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Federal authorities say the 33-year-old migrant died last May at an Albuquerque hospital. She had been hospitalized after showing symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV.

Hernandez traveled with a caravan of Central American asylum seekers and was taken into custody in San Diego.

Immigrant and LGBT rights advocates say transgender migrants do not receive adequate medical care in detention facilities.

ICE officials have said all detainees get comprehensive care upon arrival.

Officials Cite 'Terrorist Attack' Document In Compound Case- Associated Press

Prosecutors seeking to keep two men and three women jailed on child-abuse charges in Taos now say they seized a document entitled "Phases of a Terrorist Attack" at the desert compound where 11 children and a dead boy were found.

In a court filing Friday, prosecutors said the hand-written document had instructions for "The one-time terrorist" and mentioned an unnamed place called "the ideal attack site."

The document was submitted as evidence but not made public. Prosecutors are challenging a judge's ruling that would release the adults to house arrest with ankle bracelets — although none have been released amid death threats against the judge and concerns for the defendants' own security.

Whistleblower Lawsuit Against New Mexico DA Can Continue- Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A state district judge has ruled a whistleblower lawsuit against a southern New Mexico district attorney can move forward.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports state Judge Jarod Hofacket last week rejected a move by Doña Ana County District Attorney Mark D'Antonio to dismiss the lawsuit.

Marylou Bonacci, a former office manager at the District Attorney's office says she was terminated in retribution for reporting sexual harassment by an office supervisor.

She also says she was fired for providing information and testimony to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for what she alleges was an investigation into D'Antonio's conduct.

The suit further alleges an assistant district attorney appeared in court intoxicated on two occasions but was not disciplined beyond sending him home.

The District Attorney's Office did not return phone messages.

New Mexico Elections Chief To Use Funds To Boost Security – Associated Press

Money awarded to New Mexico through the federal Help America Vote Act will go toward replacing equipment at clerk's offices around the state and making other improvements to protect against security vulnerabilities.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver detailed how the funding will be used on Friday. The state was awarded nearly $3.7 million earlier this year.

The Secretary of State's Office also says it intends to maintain a cyber incident communications plan and evaluate the feasibility of including regular table-top exercises for practice and preparation.

Risk assessments also will be done to highlight any security vulnerabilities at the county level. Officials say that will help focus resources where they're needed most.

Officials say improvements will be made ahead of the November general election.

Police Say Suicidal Man Caused Lockdown At Albuquerque Airport – Associated Press

A lockdown at Albuquerque's largest airport was lifted yesterday afternoon after police arrested a man who was suicidal in the main terminal.

They say the man initially got on a flight Sunday morning at the Albuquerque International Sunport and was asked to get off the plane after he became disruptive.

He was getting on another flight, police say, when the man went to a kiosk in the terminal, grabbed a mug and broke it and then started using it to hurt himself.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik says crisis intervention team officers talked to the man and he surrendered around 11 a.m. His name hasn't been released yet.

All incoming flights to the airport were diverted and some flights were canceled because of the incident.

New Mexico Plateau Named For Birds Is Seeing Them Die Off Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Scientists believe a New Mexico plateau named for birds is seeing them die off due to climate change.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Jeanne Fair, a Los Alamos National Laboratory ornithologist in the BioScience Division, and other scientists at the laboratory recently released the results of a 10-year bird study on the Pajarito Plateau which shows "a 73 percent decrease in abundance and a 45 percent decrease in richness (variety of species) from 2003 to 2013."

Scientists believe a massive piñon tree die-off on the plateau may be a harbinger of things to come throughout the high-desert Southwest, where piñon trees — and the birds that frequent them — are potential markers for the effects of global warming.

Chief Judge Says Change In Charging Process Will Be More Gradual Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The state District Court for metro Albuquerque is pulling back on plans to reduce the use of grand juries to charge criminal defendants while increasing use of preliminary hearings.

Court officials said in July that there'd be fewer grand juries and more open-court preliminary hearings to formally launch criminal cases.

But the Albuquerque Journal reports that Chief Judge Nan Nash said Friday that the decreased use of grand juries will be more gradual than previously planned and that she's responding to concerns voiced by law enforcement officials.

Critics of the change said scheduling more preliminary hearings could tie up police officers in court.

Supporters of preliminary hearings say they can speed cases along because evidence is disclosed earlier, prompting defendants to decide to whether to fight charges.

Cannon Air Force Base Says Drinking Water Safe But Tests Planned – Eastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

Officials at Cannon Air Force Base say its drinking water is safe but that they're inspecting groundwater monitoring wells to assess the potential for groundwater contamination from past firefighting activities.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports the inspection is prompted by contaminants found in monitoring wells on the base near Clovis and the contaminants are from foam that is no longer used in firefighting.

Base spokesman J.P. Rebello says there are "no known contamination pathways to municipal drinking water sources" and that the inspection is intended to determine whether there's contamination outside the base.

Colonel Stewart Hammons, commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing, said officials are committed to conducting a thorough investigation and to protecting the health of Air Force personnel and area residents.

2 US-Mexico Border Communities Fight, May Create New City -  KVIA-TV, Associated Press

Two U.S.-Mexico border communities in New Mexico are locked in a legal fight that may result in the creation of a city.

KVIA-TV in El Paso reports a New Mexico appellate judge ruled last week that residents in the wealthy, unincorporated area of Santa Teresa can continue efforts to create a municipality.

The ruling comes as Santa Teresa residents are trying to fight a plan by the nearby poorer city of Sunland Park to annex their community.

Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea says he believes the dispute stems from a social class issue between the two communities.

Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias says Santa Teresa residents must now have a hearing with county commissioners on plans for a city.

Center To Hold Start-To-End Reading Of 'Bless Me, Ultima' Associated Press

The National Hispanic Cultural Center will hold a beginning-to-end reading of Mexican-American writer Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" as part of an exhibit of the seminal novel.

The complete reading of the book is scheduled in October and the NHCC has invited activists, dignitaries and acclaimed writer Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez to join the event.

The center has been celebrating "Bless Me, Ultima" since an exhibit opened in March around the 1972 novel. The exhibit will be open through early November this year.

Experts say Anaya's World War II-era novel about a young Mexican-American boy's relationship with an older curandera — a healer of Mexican Indian heritage — influenced a generation of Latino writers. Its imagery and cultural references were rare at the time of its publication.