Albuquerque P&J invites public to Day of Peace events Thursday, Sept. 21

The Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice along with five other groups (United Nations Association, Albuquerque Chapter; NM Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice; Power Through Peace; Campaign Nonviolence NM; and the UNM Peace Studies Program) invites everyone to two exciting events being held to celebrate UN International Day of Peace on Thursday, September 21.

On Thursday, Sept. 21, from 5:30pm to 8pm there will be a Peace Day Forum at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, 202 Harvard Dr. SE, on the corner with Silver. Frito Pie will be served; a panel and discussion will discuss the global theme this year, of “Together: Safety, Respect, and Dignity for All.”

Panelists include:

• Dr. Jamal Martin, Director of UNM Peace and Justice Studies

• Brandon Baca, Refugee Well-being Project at UNM

• Jessica Martin, Supervising Attorney, NM Immigrant Law Center

• Daniel Vega, organizer for NM Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice

• Moderator of panel discussion: Dr. Rosemary Blanchard, Chair, Albuquerque Chapter, United Nations Association USA ,

See attached for more information.

Then on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 3pm to 7pm, we will be hosting a Peace Day Block Party on Silver Avenue, at Harvard, where we will be shutting down traffic and featuring poetry and live music for the community. We will have food trucks, face painting, street chalking, and social justice info tables. Poets include: Nikki Archuleta, Aztatl, Mary Oishi, former ABQ Poet Laureate Hakim Bellamy, ABQ Poet Laureate Manuel Gonzales and his daughter Sarita, and Masando Mike Hiraoka. Live music will feature l@sotr@s and Eileen & the In-Betweens, plus the NM Peace Choir, and finally flute by Johnny Alston.

Everyone is warmly welcomed to the Peace Day activities this week!


Imploring President Trump to Reconsider Reinstating Program Offering Military Surplus to Police


By Laura Finley


On August 28, the Trump administration unveiled a new plan to roll back limits President Obama had placed in 2015 on the controversial 1033 program, which provides local law enforcement agencies and even some campus and school police with surplus military gear. Obama issued an executive order to end the program, which had provided law enforcement agencies with everything from armored vehicles, grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and camouflage uniforms.

In doing so, Obama noted the militarized response to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Michael Brown, where police responded to nonviolent protesters in armored vehicles, riot gear, and with pepper spray, and previously to the use of armored vehicles and military gear by police during the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Obama said, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”

Speaking in support of the policy change at the annual conference of the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions applauded the change, asserting (incorrectly) that the U.S is facing an increase in violent crime. He defended the move by claiming that family discipline has eroded as well, another claim that is unsupported. Sessions received multiple standing ovations for his speech from the FOP. A document describing the policy shift says that it “sends the message that we care more about public safety than about how a piece of equipment looks, especially when that equipment has been shown to reduce crime, reduce complaints against and assaults on police, and make officers more effective.” Again, these claims may sound good to the law-and-order crowd, but they are unsubstantiated by data.

Civil rights groups blasted the policy shift, saying the Obama-era guidelines were critical to rebuilding trust between police and communities of color. Vanita Gupta, former head of the DOJ’s civil rights division under President Obama and now leader of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, said, “These guidelines were created after Ferguson to ensure that police departments had a guardian, not warrior, mentality. Our communities are not the same as armed combatants in a war zone.”

Congress originally launched 1033 program in 1990 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allowed the Defense Department to transfer surplus hardware and equipment to state and local law enforcement, allegedly to assist with “counter-drug activities.”

Since the 1990s, more than $5.4 billion worth of gear and machinery has been transferred to various law enforcement agencies. Some agencies have made out with a huge booty: Brevard County, Florida, scored big, acquiring nearly $7 million worth of equipment, including 13 helicopters, two armored personnel carriers, and 246 assault rifles. Five Indiana universities have armed their university police officers with military leftovers, including body armor, assault rifles, and tanks, while campus police at Ohio State University now own an MRAP. In all, 120 colleges and universities have acquired military equipment and garb via the 1033 program. In 2014, the Los Angeles Unified School District, amidst outcry from parents, announced that it would return the three grenade launchers it had acquired but would keep its armored personnel carrier and 61 assault rifles. Some 600 law enforcement agencies have received mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), which are designed to survive roadside bombs. Additionally, local governments have received approximately $34 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to buy their own military equipment from private suppliers. Thus the total financial cost of police militarization is approximately $39 billion, which is more than the entire defense budget of Germany.

1033 was merely a continuation of the militarization of policing, which started with the development of Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams after the Watts riots in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Although originally created to address hostage situations, sniper shootings and violent unrest, since the early 1980s the use of SWAT teams has expanded dramatically. Between 1985 and 1995, there was a 48 percent increase in the number of SWAT teams and an astounding 1,500 percent increase in deployments between 1980 and 2000. SWAT teams are most frequently deployed to conduct search and arrest warrants related to drug cases, with some 50,000 deployments in 2015, yet in few cases do they discover actual serious criminal activity. By the late 1990s, 89 percent of large police departments (those serving at least 50,000 civilians) had a police paramilitary unit (PPU), approximately double the number that did in the 1980s. Experts say that the military-style battle dress uniforms (BDUs) and the military-style stress training often provided in police academies, creates an “us versus them” mentality that, coupled with the surplus gear, can very easily lead officers to develop a war-making, not peacekeeping, philosophy of policing. This is all despite federal law that prohibits the military from being deployed against U.S citizens.

The military is designed to use maximum force; police should use as little as is needed to do their work and to protect themselves. There should remain no doubt that training police to act like the military, don military gear, and arm themselves with the tools of an occupying force will do nothing but increase fear and tensions and reduce the likelihood that citizens will want to cooperate with law enforcement. We should put pressure on the Trump administration to reconsider this foolish reinstatement of the 1033 program before another Ferguson happens.


Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.



Weekly + RESISTance Calendar

Saturday, June 17, 2017

     La Frontera Fair Trade Store is open for the third summer.  The store is at Nopalito’s Galeria, 326 S. Mesquite St, Las Cruces, and is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm every Saturday from June 3 through Aug. 26.  All proceeds from the sales go to the women who produce the products because the store is staffed entirely by volunteers.


PFLAG Prideweek Kick-off at Pioneer Women’s Park from 9:00am to Noon.  Bagels & burritos, music, speakers, fun for the whole family.


Rally to Defend Health Care to be held at Albert Johnson Park (in front of Branigan Library) from 10:00am to Noon.  Participating groups:  We’re In Indivisible, Democratic Party, Office of Senator Martin Heinrich, ProgressNow New Mexico, ACLU, Health Action NM, Planned Parenthood, and Las Cruces Coalition for Reproductive Justice.  Hear personal stories and listen to your political leaders, doctors, and other health care providers discuss needs in Dona Ana County.  Bring signs:  Protect My Care, Save the ACA, Defeat TrumpCare, Medicare for All, Save Medicaid, or your own brilliant creations.


Support of Local Immigrant Family sponsored by CAFé.  Religious leaders, including Bishop Oscar Cantu and Father Tom Smith, will speak out in support of Francia Benitez-Castano and her family at a press conference at 10:00am at Holy Cross Retreat Center (600 Holy Cross Rd) followed by mass at 11:00am.


Women’s March to Ban the Bomb in New York City and other cities.  No sister action is planned yet for Las Cruces.



Monday, June 19, 2017

     Attend the Las Cruces City Council meeting that starts at 1:00pm in Council Chambers, City Hall.  Agenda items include resolutions of support for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and for the Paris agreement.  The Green Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor welcome your attendance.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

     World Refugee Day.  Let’s work to free immigrants from detention and welcome them to our communities as refugees.  Sadly, here in the U.S., we are detaining thousands of people who should be protected, supported, and empowered to forge a new life away from the violence and trauma they have fled.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

     Anti-war Vigil every Wednesday (since 9/11/01) from 4:00-5:00pm at the federal court building, Church Street at Griggs.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

     Soulidarity vigil every Thursday from 5:00-5:30pm at the federal court building, Church Street at Griggs.  Stand in opposition to Dakota Access, Keystone XL, and all other oil pipelines being constructed across the land of indigenous and Native peoples in violation of treaties and with disregard for sacred spaces.


–Jan Thompson janthompson0817@gmail.com




SWEC: No Wall Town Hall Makes a Loud Statement

No Wall Town Hall draws crowd, sends message

Approximately 200 people gathered recently near the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Sunland Park (NM) for a community town hall to send a clear message to Congress: don’t give President Trump one penny for his border agenda that will further destroy wildlife habitats and militarize borderland communities. Speaker after speaker delivered the same message: No boots, no beds, no wall! The event was organized by a coalition of groups including SWEC, ACLU-NM Center for Border Rights, Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (NM CAFÉ), and New Mexico Wildlife Federation in response to Trump’s budget request for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes billions for constructing the border wall, hiring more ICE and Border Patrol agents, and building more immigration detention facilities. Click here for more details and event photos. Read this article in Las Cruces Sun-News.

NM Legislators call for more protections for Mexican wolves

More than 20 New Mexico state legislators have called a new federal plan for Mexican wolves “flawed” and “politically driven,” and urged stronger protections for wolves, including doubling the number of wolves and allowing them to occupy habitats in northern NM where biologists say they have the best chance of survival. The legislators made their comments in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) commenting on the agency’s draft Mexican wolf recovery plan. Their position was in marked contrast to that of Governor Susana Martinez, her appointed game commission, and NM’s Department of Game and Fish, all of whom want to restrict recovery to fewer wolves in a smaller area. Click here to learn more and read the letter.

NM legislators unhappy with proposed transfer of state park

Members of the interim committee on Water and Natural Resources grilled state agency heads for more than two hours at a hearing earlier this week in Silver City (NM) on the proposed transfer of the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park from one state agency to another. State Parks Division (SPD) says it lacks funding to operate the park and wants to turn it over to the Department of Game and Fish (DGF). SWEC’s executive director Kevin Bixby and Mesilla mayor Nora Barraza spoke against the transfer. (SWEC was instrumental in getting the park established. Click here to see our op-ed on NMPolitics.net about the transfer.) Legislators were concerned about how the park would be managed under DGF as well as the failure of the agencies to meaningfully engage the community about the transfer. They also questioned the legality of state agencies transferring property among themselves without legislative approval. The agencies announced that a second public meeting on the transfer was scheduled for October 1. Stay tuned for details.

Save the date!

Mark your calendar! SWEC’s annual gala will be held October 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the new plaza in downtown Las Cruces. This year we are celebrating 25 years of protecting wildlife and wild places in the Southwest! Join us for great food from local restaurants, beer and wine, live music, a silent auction and dancing under the stars. Click here for more info.


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