This piece was originally published as part of a small run, printed document titled “Reflections from the Setting Sun”. The short document was an assortment of brief reflections on the first days of what has become known as the George Floyd Rebellion, based on the lunar cycles. This particular piece is the sole reflection from the Southwest region of the American Wasteland, among reflections otherwise situated on the West Coast. We think its important to publish here, over a year later, as a part of the historical record of how revolutionaries in the Southwest attempted to orient themselves to the moment.
-Tiwa Pueblo Land (Albuquerque, New Mexico)-
In terms of militancy, the events in New Mexico began with a stutter-step of hesitation that lagged behind the other regions of the country. I can see no other reason for the subdued temperament in the streets than the fact that black people comprise a meager three percent of New Mexico’s population, while every other social grouping helps to sustain a particular kind of anti-black racism that is peculiar to the state’s archaic caste system.
Beginning with the first protest, initially planned on the Thursday after George Floyd’s murder, in a residential district, as a COVID-safe motorized demonstration. Despite the organizer’s palliative intentions, minor clashes nevertheless took place when the more defiant ones had enough of the “good citizens on wheels” parade. Cop cars were eventually smashed and shots rang out before pigs in armored vehicles managed to disperse the rebels with their tear gas.
The first two days of protest would come to indicate the prevailing dialectic that besets the movement in New Mexico. On the one hand, the reformist left clings with all its life to every tired ritual and cliché of democratic control. Without having to directly face the black insurgency and ignoring their example elsewhere, the “progressive” are often capable of inhibiting the spread of the uprising with rather unsophisticated techniques of liberal management. On the other hand, it is impossible to wholly subtract the state from a national context which being swept by insurrection, so the marginal, the excluded, and the disinherited of New Mexico have nonetheless tended to find a way to successfully procure a healthy dose of emancipatory violence.
This back and forth was clearly manifest in the large demonstration the following Sunday evening in downtown. Although somewhat spirited, the sanctioned protest followed the garbled rules issued by the corpse of the American civil disobedience tradition. However, as felony hour approached, the glass began to shatter and by 1am shops began to lose their precious. Below a swarm of ghetto birds, stores were looted and firearms were discharged in what was likely the most serious rioting since Trump’s visit a few years back. Moreover, for a short while, the street demonstrated the only means by which the barren desert that settlers dub “New Mexico” could ever be purged of its pervasive and firmly entrenched anti-black racism.