Moreso than other presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump’s visit to New Mexico was met with strong resistance. Protestors gathered behind steel barricades outside the Albuquerque Convention Center long before the presumed GOP presidential nominee started speaking inside. Trump’s conservative message, that includes a promise to build a wall along the Mexican border, rubs many in the mostly blue, heavily Latino state the wrong way.
Still, a diverse crowd that included Native American voters turned up on both sides of the Trump rally.
Jairo Marquez was among protestors behind the barricade.
“I have a big sign that says ‘Hug a Mexican,’ Marquez said. “And I want either side to hug me. I’m giving out hugs. I’m not really trying to choose sides here. I’m just trying to stick to the point that I don’t like what Trump said that we’re all rapists and criminals.
Standing next to Marquez was a group of women—three generations—representing the Pawnee, Ponca and Comanche tribes of Oklahoma.
“We’re here because Donald Trump does not support our values,” said Marisa Page. “He’s not good. He’s not going to make America great again,” she said, referring to Trumps main campaign slogan.
Alexis Jimenez was also among the group of Native women. They held signs reading “Never Trump” and “America is better than Trump.”
“Be sure to vote; you have to vote,” Jimenez said. “Your vote counts in every single election. Every level of government. If you don’t vote you’re hurting yourself and your people if you’re not taking part in these elections.”
Sacheen Smith’s sign read “dooda Trump,” which means “no Trump” in Navajo.
“I honestly don’t understand how anyone of a minority background could go for Trump,” Smith said. “Actually my aunt is a Trump supporter so there have been a lot of family squabbles,” she added with a laugh. “I believe in what (Democratic candidate Bernie) Sanders stands for. We got to look out for climate change, and the middle class and every person—minority, disabled, women—everybody.”
Meanwhile, inside the convention center a crowd of about 4,000 people gathered to hear Trump’s message. Among them was Mary Louie Row, a Navajo from Cuba, New Mexico.
“I just wanted to see him—what kind of a person he is,” Row said. “And if he’s going to do what he said he’s going to do.”
Colbert Sherman, a Navajo from Gallup, see’s Trump as an answer to his concerns about crime.
“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “I ain’t voting this year for the Democratic Party in the general election. I will vote for Trump. I don’t care for Bernie Sanders, I don’t care for Hillary Clinton.”
Nehemiah Tsosie, a Navajo from Kirtland, wore a “Trump for President” shirt to the event. He says he’s a conservative, and is concerned about the industry he relies on for his livelihood.
“I am supporting Trump because he is for the coal industry and I work at the coal mine,” Tsosie said. “The thing is a lot of people are getting laid off at the coal mine. Right now the employment is kind of shaky, especially with the coal mine, especially with the Clean Air Act.”
As night fell, the protest outside the rally turned violent as a group of activists started small fires and threw rocks and bottles at police. Four people were arrested immediately after the event and several officers were treated for minor injuries.