A planned Proud Boys rally on Sunday at Civic Plaza didn’t go quite as planned. Although hundreds of counterprotesters showed up from various local activist groups, only a handful of people showed up in what appeared to be support of the “White Lives Matter” rally.
The Proud Boys have been classified as a far-right extremist hate group known to be racist, sexist, homophobic and violent. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified at least one active affiliation of the Proud Boys in New Mexico.
During the protest, there was a moment of tension between a man and a slew of counter-protesters. The man showed up to the rally with two women and two children, a rifle and a sign that said #saveourchildren and All Guns Matter, then stood across the street in front of the Albuquerque Convention Center. He told the crowd that he wasn’t a member of the Proud Boys but was there to stand up for his rights.
Within 15 minutes, Albuquerque Police, in full riot gear, began walking toward the man and the small crowd gathered near him. The crowd grew and became more agitated, and then the man and his family were taken inside the Convention Center. APD said the man was detained and will receive a citation for child endangerment. They have not released his name.
As the crowd was dispersing, another man yelling conservative slogans began filming the counter-protestors. A large crowd grew around the man, telling him to leave. As tensions mounted, a large fight broke out, with the man punching counter-protestors and taking a few hits himself. A few counter-protestors dragged him away from Civic Plaza before the situation got even more violent. The man did not identify himself, and APD was not at the scene. An APD spokesperson said the man refused medical treatment and declined to press any charges.
La’Quonte Barry, a local activist-turned food truck entrepreneur, was one of the people who was involved in the altercation. Barry is no stranger to rallies, as he was detained unlawfully at a Black Lives Matter rally on Civic Plaza last summer. Barry has since settled with the city. When asked what was different about this rally, he said, “You don’t see the Trump people. You don’t see people out here being openly racist. They’re not out here anymore, so it makes you wonder if they really stood for something or were they just trying to disrupt the country. Those people don’t stand for what we stand for being citizens of this country and fighting for the people.”
While the Proud Boys organization did not make an appearance, there were rumors that indicated the hate group would be hosting events nationwide.
APD Chief Harold Medina and Mayor Keller said they were prepared for any type of rally. “We don’t want to see this in our town, and so I think that’s important for them to hear,” Mayor Keller said during a weekend press conference. “We will not be pushed around by a couple of Facebook posts or Proud Boys who try to intimidate us.”