Crowd shows support for law enforcement as protesters call for increased accountability
FARMINGTON — Two different causes brought protesters to Animas Valley Mall and Farmington Museum at Gateway Park on June 19.
A small group of people gathered at the museum to mark Juneteenth — the day slaves in Texas learned they were free years after the Emancipation Proclama— with a protest calling for increased police accountability in the wake of the killings of several members of the Black community in other parts of the United States. Among those deaths was that of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes in an incident that was captured on video.
Meanwhile, a much larger crowd gathered at the mall as a counter protest. The crowd held signs expressing support for law enforcement officers as well as President Donald Trump.
Rocco Dipaolo rode his chestnut mare, Bonita, along the rally carrying a "Don't Tread on Me" flag.
"I'm going to back the blue and I'm going to back the president," he said.
Bekah Davis had helped the museum protest by getting permits in place for the protesters. She said she has been protesting against injustices committed toward many different groups of people for years.
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"I'm pretty much an ally for anyone who is standing on the side of love," she said.
Davis described the current climate as a second Civil Rights era.
She had not heard of the simultaneous protest at the mall. Davis said she and her fellow protesters are not anti-law enforcement.
"I hate that they make it seem like we're against the police," she said.
Davis said the police in Farmington have been supportive of their right to protest and she highlighted that Sheriff Shane Ferrari attended one of the rallies and joined the protesters in kneeling for nearly nine minutes — the length of time Floyd was pinned beneath the officer.
Davis and the other protesters stood in silence as a man on a motorcycle drove up into the museum parking lot and yelled obscenities at them, as well as showing them his middle finger.
The man yelled that he would be dead if it was not for the police.
A short distance east on Main Street, the crowd of about 100 people at the Animas Valley Mall also faced people yelling at them. Unlike the group at the museum, they did not remain silent.
When people passing by yelled, "Black Lives Matter," they responded with "all lives matter."
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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