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Protestors take stand against racism

Juno Ogle Photo A protestor reaches out to shake the hand of Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington after the sheriff spoke Wednesday evening to the crowd. More than 50 people stood along Main Street in front of the Chaves County Courthouse to protest police brutality and racism.

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For the third night this week, locals and some people from out of town migrated to the sidewalk on North Main Street in front of the courthouse Wednesday to take a stand against racial inequality and police brutality.

Around 6:30 p.m., just over 50 people were in attendance, some wearing cloth face masks, and many sporting placards with slogans such as “No justice, no peace,” “End police brutality” and “Black Lives Matter” during the afternoon rush hour. Many people who drove by let out honks of support and cheers. Others made gestures at the protesters showing their disagreement.

Gabriel Austin, 18, who moved from Roswell six months ago, said he organized the event as a way of solidarity with victims of police brutality and protesters in other cities.

“We are for life. We are not with any of the death, any of the violence or any of the hatred because hatred needs to be put to a stop,” he said.

Similar demonstrations have occurred in cities across the United States in the past week, spurred by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died when an officer knelt on his neck.

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Since then, activists have taken to the streets decrying police brutality and racial inequality.

Earlier in the week, Wednesday’s protests were the subject of rumors on social media, with some people saying the event was organized by out-of-towners and people involved with Antifa, the loosely organized movement that President Donald Trump has accused of using the protests to cause vandalism and rioting.

“We are not the people that do that. Those people are not with our movement,” Austin said.

Most of those in attendance were young people — Abbie Casey, 18, said she was inspired to come out because she is pained to see other people being hurt.

Angel G. stood on the sidewalk waving a Mexican flag. The Carlsbad resident said the flag is from Mexico, the country his parents are from and that they, much like African Americans, also face discrimination.

“I’m holding this to show black people that we are in solidarity with them because what police do to them is not fair,” he said.

Angel G. said those two weeks ago were protesting public health orders put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic are now silent.

“Civil liberties are really being violated out here and it’s not just white, it’s not just black, everybody is getting messed up out there,” he said of the reaction by police to protesters in other cities.

Austin though said he has been the victim of discrimination by police but not by law enforcement in Chaves County.

During the protest, Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington showed up. After seeing them peacefully assembled, he then posed for pictures and shook hands with the protesters.

“Keep doing what you are doing, have a good time and be loud,” he said to the crowd as they cheered.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com