On Wednesday, July 21, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced during a White House news conference that 35 federal agents are being sent to Albuquerque as part of the expansion of “Operation Legend” with other cities also being sent in a handful of cities across the United States.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales U.S. Attorney John Anderson, for the State of New Mexico, were present for the announcement, but they did not speak. Surprisingly, also in attendance were the family of 55-year-old Jacqueline Vigil, who was killed in the driveway of her West Side Albuquerque home last year, attended the news conference.
During the press announcement, President Trump said there has been a “shocking explosion” of “heinous crimes” in cities. as a result of efforts to “defund, dismantle, and dissolve” police departments. Trump boldly proclaimed assistance is being sent to cities where their leadership wants to “defund, defame or abolish” police departments. Trump severely criticized city leaders headed by Democrats throughout the country for not doing enough to combat crime and for putting the “interests of criminals” above law-abiding citizens. Trump said:
“Under Operation Legend, we will also soon send federal law enforcement to other cities that need help. … Other cities need help. They need it badly. They should call. They should want it. They’re too proud or they’re too political to do that. One of them is Albuquerque, New Mexico.”
Sam Vigil, Jacqueline’s husband, spoke emotionally and recounted during the press conference the day his wife was killed while sitting in her car about to leave for the gym. No arrests have been made in the murder, but federal authorities are offering $25,000 reward. Vigil said:
“It’s been eight months and there have been no arrests at all. … There are other victims in Albuquerque that are in the same boat.”
OVER THE TOP DEMANDS FOR RESIGNATION
In advance of the President’s announcement of “Operation Legend” targeting Albuquerque, city and state leaders denounced the plan. Sheriff Manny Gonzales came under severe criticism from city and state elected officials for attending the press conference where he did not say a single word.
Before the press conference, in an interview an exhibiting out of character expression of anger, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich called for the resignation of Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales claiming Gonzales was inviting federal law enforcement agents. Heinrich called the law enforcement being sent to Albuquerque the president’s stormtroopers and said:
“I believe that it is time for Sheriff Gonzales to step aside and make room for someone who will make maintaining the peace and promoting the safety and protection of Bernalillo County residents our law enforcement’s top priority. … Instead of collaborating with the Albuquerque Police Department, the Sheriff is inviting the President’s stormtroopers into Albuquerque. … If we can learn anything from Portland [Oregon], it’s that we don’t need this kind of ‘help’ from the White House. The President is currently using federal law enforcement agents like a domestic paramilitary force. That’s precisely how fascism begins and none of us should ever encourage it or accept it.”
The progressive city of Portland, Oregon has seen 50 consecutive days of protests with protesters staging nightly demonstrations since May in a section of downtown that includes the federal courthouse, forcing most businesses in the zone to close. Department of Homeland Security agents and others from within the agency arrived in force over the Fourth of July weekend and arrests were made by federal agents dressed in military garb and not identifying themselves.
Albuquerque was the scene of several protests in June after George Floyd was killed while in Minneapolis police custody. One protest turned violent when a man was shot. However, the protests in Albuquerque have subsided and are peaceful when they do occur.
Mayor Tim Keller cautioned that two weeks ago the Trump administration said federal officers were going to Portland to guard the courthouse. In a statement, Keller said the president is ready to incite violence in Democratic cities and is forming a reelection strategy “built on gaslighting immigrants and people of color ” and said:
“We always welcome partnerships in constitutional crime fighting that are in step with our community, but we won’t sell out our city for a bait and switch excuse to send secret police to Albuquerque. Operation Legend is not real crime fighting; it’s politics standing in the way of police work and makes us less safe. … There’s no place for Trump’s secret police in our city. … If this was more than a stunt, these politicians would support constitutional crime-fighting efforts that work for our community, not turning Albuquerque into a federal police state.”
APD Chief Michael Geier said:
“We coordinate with our federal law enforcement partners every day. … What is being described is not real crime-fighting; it’s politics standing in the way of police work.”
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s remarks were far more tempered when she said that if the Trump administration really wants to assist local law enforcement with community policing activities and data-driven crime-fighting initiatives, it would welcome the conversation and said:
“If the Trump administration sincerely wishes to assist local law enforcement in our state in their regular community-policing activities, in data-driven crime-fighting initiatives, in protecting the public safety and welfare of New Mexicans, we would welcome the conversation. … If the Trump administration wishes to antagonize New Mexicans and Americans with authoritarian, unnecessary and unaccountable military-style ‘crackdowns,’ they have no business whatsoever in New Mexico.”
SHERIFF MANNY GONZALES RESPONDS
In a statement, Sheriff Manny Gonzales said the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office stands by its efforts to fight crime in the area. Sheriff Gonzales also criticized Heinrich’s statement and said:
“We are proud that our efforts have significantly and positively impacted crime in Bernalillo County. … Regrettably, Senator Heinrich couldn’t be more political and out of touch with the local social problems and the great work being done by our deputies and the other first responders. BCSO continues to combat the Albuquerque crime crisis in partnership with federal agencies.”
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
According to President Trump, the Department of Justice will provide $61 million in grants to hire more police officers in cities that are part of Operation Legend. Albuquerque’s portion of the money will go toward hiring 40 more police officers and the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office will be able to hire five more officers with the money.
Attorney General Barr said 35 federal agents will come from other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the United States Marshal’s Office. and Homeland Security. AG Barr said the federal government will offer a reward to help find out who killed Jacqueline Vigil.
Attorney General Barr emphasized that “Operation Legend” will not look like it does in Portland, where federal agents have faced off with protesters. He said this will be classic crime-fighting.
Immediately after President Trump’s press conference, U.S. Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson, who was present, said the goal of the operation is to reduce gun violence in Albuquerque and had this to say:
“Any effort to compare Operation Legend to what’s going on in Portland is baseless and misguided. … There is no connection between those two. The federal law enforcement resources that are being deployed are directed at reducing gun violence; they are not directed at arresting or controlling protesters; they are not being directed at restricting anyone’s right to protest. … They are not being directed at immigration enforcement, and they are not being directed at protecting statues. It’s limited to the exclusive goal of eliminating the scourge of gun violence.”
Jim Langenberg, the FBI special agent in charge of the Albuquerque Division, also had this to say:
“There’s a lot of confusion between what we’re doing here in Albuquerque and what’s going on in Portland. It’s apples and oranges. … Agents are not coming to Albuquerque to investigate local crimes such as speeding”.
FBI Special Agent Langenberg added that if there’s a crime, there has to be a federal link like firearms, carjacking, drugs or gang structure. In other words, there must be a federal crime What was made clear is the law enforcement personnel will not be attending local protests dressed in military garb as is the case in Portland Oregon.
The FBI also said federal agents will be working in plainclothes alongside APD and BCSO for pre-existing task forces. Those task forces could be the joint task force “Operation Relentless Pursuit,” which aims to take high-profiled criminals off the streets. It’s an initiative U.S. Attorney General William Barr established in Albuquerque in 2019.
It was reported that the federal agents will not be dispatched to Albuquerque until mid-October, a mere few weeks before the general election.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Trump’s photo op press conference would be so laughable if it was not so damn pathetic with Trump just plain lying when he says Albuquerque leadership wants to “defund, defame or abolish” its law enforcement. It seems that Trump and his United State Attorney Barr are totally ignorant to the fact that it’s Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) that Barr heads that has it thumb on APD because of the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
For the past 6 years, APD has been struggling to implement 176 APD reforms. Further, the city of Albuquerque is spending $88 million dollars over 4 years to grow and expand the APD from 850 sworn officers to 1,200 and is also spending an addtional $35 million for non-recurring expenses for expansion, recruitment and training.
The two fools of Trump and Barr actually think 35 more sworn law enforcement are going to make a difference which is an absolute joke. APD has 980 sworn police and the BCSO has 300 sworn police, for a total of 1,280 sworn police, with city’s crime rates being some of the highest in the country for the last 10 years, 8 years under Republican Mayor RJ Berry and for 2 years getting even worse under Democrat Mayor Keller. Keller himself is saying APD alone needs at least 200 more cops. Further, the city is not under a protest siege as is Portland, Oregon.
One conflicting report is that the law enforcement personnel will be arriving in mid October, and if that is indeed the case, it means anything could happen, and always does happen with Trump pulling those officers back should he loose Albuquerque in a landslide, which is likely at this point.
USING VICTIMS OF CRIMES AS POLITICAL PROPS
The murder of Jacqueline Vigil was without a doubt was one of the most vile and heinous murders seen in Albuquerque in recent memory. However, there is absolutely nothing more disgusting than a politician and prosecutor such as Trump and Barr to use victims of crime or their family’s as props to score political points, especially for a President of the United States exposing them to the glare of the national media.
Trump and Barr have no decency. It is doubted that their “white privilege” allows them to truly identify and understand the pain Jacquelin Vigils family is going through. Exposing the Vigil family to the national news spotlight at the White House, having them recount the murder of a love one to announce funding is just plain cruel.
ABQ REPORTS ARTICLE ON WHITE PRIVILEGE PROGRESSIVES
Democrats of all types, progressive, moderates and conservative, are extremely hostile to President Trump. It is common knowledge that Sheriff Gonzales is planning to run for Mayor next year, and its likely his White House visit will be remembered, especially by white privilege progressive Mayor Tim Keller and all of his white progressive supporters as he seeks a second term.
Sheriff Gonzales is known for his opposition to police lapel cameras and sanctuary city policies, both priorities of progressives in Albuquerque. Unless one passes the progressive test on any and all issues, a candidate for office is not likely to get any votes from progressives. The Sheriff is now returning “persona non gratis” to deal with the fire storm for supporting Trump’s decision to send federal authorities to the city.
One glaring problem that was highlighted by the White House visit is when “white privilege” progressives such as Senator Martin Heinrich, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier went after Sheriff Gonzales with a vengeance. Senator Martin Heinrich’s and the ACLU going as far as to demand his resignation was over the top. It is one thing to be disappointed in Sheriff Gonzales because of his support of conservative causes and a trip to the White House to participate in a Trump photo op, but to be demanding his resignation is another.
Thirty five (35) law enforcement agents from various federal agencies assigned to target violent felons in Albuquerque do not constitute “Storm Troopers”, “secret police” and it is not “turning Albuquerque into a federal police state” nor is it “politics standing in the way of police work”. It sure hell is not “gaslighting immigrants and people of color”. These are all inflammatory quoted terms used by Heinrich, Keller and Geier.
Heinrich, Keller and Geier comments appear to have backfired on them and exposing them to the accusations of “white privilege” against a native New Mexico Hispanic who has served his country as a Marine and has a lengthy career in law enforcement.
THE ABQ REPORTS ARTICLE
On July 22, the on line ABQReports, known for its hard-hitting commentary on “waste, fraud and abuse” and its government watch dog reports, published a scathing article entitled “White supremacy! White liberal carpetbagger senator orders Hispanic sheriff in New Mexico to resign”. The article was written by ABQReports Editor Dennis Domrzalski and retired former APD Sergeant Dan Klein. Following is the article in full with the link at the end:
“You’ve got to give it to today’s liberals and progressives. They engage in doublespeak, triple and quadruple speak, and they are hypocrites to the umpteenth power. But they go about their hypocrisy—and their pursuit of absolute power—and double and triple standards without a bit of shame, embarrassment, remorse or guilt.
The libs, leftists and progressives constantly denounce white privilege, but in the very next breath they are throwing around their white privilege like, well, like slave owners and Nineteenth Century white supremacists. The very white progressives who denounce white privilege are the ones who exercise it the most.
The latest example of this sickening hypocrisy comes from whiter-than-white U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, and carpetbaggers Pat Davis, an Albuquerque city councilor, and Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier. On Tuesday, white man Heinrich, who came to New Mexico in 1995, told Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales, a native New Mexican and life-long Albuquerque resident, to resign.
Because Gonzales, the duly ELECTED sheriff, was going to meet with President Trump on Wednesday about using federal law enforcement officers to help control and reduce Albuquerque’s runaway crime. To libs like Heinrich, meeting with anyone—even a janitor—in the Trump administration is apparently a worse crime than rape, murder, carjacking and voting for Libertarians.
Here’s what the whiter-than-white Heinrich told the Albuquerque Journal about Gonzales’s sin of thinking for himself:
“But Sen. Heinrich called for Gonzales to resign, saying he doesn’t represent Bernalillo County, and needs to step aside to ‘make room for someone who will make maintaining the peace and promoting the safety and protection’ of residents a top priority.
“’Instead of collaborating with the Albuquerque Police Department, the Sheriff is inviting the President’s storm troopers into Albuquerque,” Heinrich wrote in a statement. “If we can learn anything from Portland, it’s that we don’t need this kind of ‘help’ from the White House. The President is currently using federal law enforcement agents like a domestic paramilitary force. That’s precisely how fascism begins and none of us should ever encourage or accept it.’”
Carpetbagger Heinrich also said that Gonzales doesn’t represent Bernalillo County and doesn’t know what its citizens need and want.
Well, let’s look at who really knows the county. Gonzales was born and raised in the South Valley. And Heinrich? Born in Nevada and raised in Missouri. Gonzales has lived here all his life. Heinrich came here in 1995 from Missouri.
While Gonzales has said that his mission is to keep the residents of Bernalillo County safe, reduce crime and put rapists, murders, carjackers, burglars and other fiends in prison, Heinrich has engaged in the most vile, disgusting and dangerous hyperbole and liberal speak. The whiter-than-white Heinrich called federal law enforcement officers “storm troopers.”
Here’s the definition of “storm trooper” from Webster’s dictionary: “A member of a private Nazi army notorious for aggressiveness, violence and brutality.”
So now, all federal law enforcement officers, including the men and women who are guarding the federal courthouse in Portland and preventing it from further being vandalized, graffitied, and burned down are Nazi storm troopers? So, every single federal law enforcement officer is attacking and brutalizing Jews and sending them off to the ovens?
Heinrich is saying that federal police, the ones who guard him in the halls of Congress, are storm troopers? That it’s just fine for those officers to protect him and his colleagues, but send them to protect citizens, many of them minorities, in a crime-ridden city to help catch violent killers and they become storm troopers?
Geier, Heinrich and Davis are all white apologists for white privilege. Their white privilege now allows them to tell a duly elected Hispanic sheriff from Albuquerque’s South Valley to resign. Why? Because their white power knows better than his brown skin.
Heinrich, Keller, Geier and Davis have done nothing to stop the explosion of crime in Albuquerque. Geier, Keller and Davis attempted to tell us crime had dropped immensely in 2019 (everyone who lives here knew that wasn’t true) only to have to admit their numbers were completely wrong and crime had risen. Was this just a mistake, like the many mistakes Geier, Keller and Davis have made? Or were they caught red-handed trying to lie to the citizens? Compare that with crime in Bernalillo County where Sheriff Gonzales is in charge. Crime is down there, go figure. But these wealthy white men of privilege have the audacity to tell Gonzales he should resign and go back to the South Valley!
What has Heinrich done to help stem the crime crisis in Albuquerque? Nothing. I doubt Heinrich has ever spent a night in the War Zone (err, International District) where gunfire is heard all the time. No, Heinrich keeps himself and his family safe back in the rich white suburbs of Washington, D.C., where his rich white privilege is safe because it is protected by those very federal police officers that he tells Albuquerque residents are storm troopers. Heinrich wants to keep Albuquerque in a constant crime crisis, while he and his family live safely in white suburbia.
And what has Davis done to stop crime for his council district? Nothing. Davis’ white privilege know-it-all behavior to his minority-majority district has caused it to spiral with out of control crime. That’s why neighborhood groups and businesses in Davis’ district requested Sheriff Gonzales to come in and help clean it up, which he has, much to Davis’ white privilege angst and embarrassment.
The proof is in the statistics. Albuquerque is still a crime-ridden, unsafe city that Heinrich rarely visits. Gonzales has made the county relatively safe in comparison.
The beauty of Manny Gonzales is this: He knows that no white privileged progressive will ever vote for him. He is the stand-up-for himself Hispanic that white liberals and progressives always fear.and hate. They can’t control Sheriff Gonzales. He won’t take orders from white males of white privilege. This scares these white male virtue-signaling progressives more than anything in the world. Gonzales is a person of color who wants to lead, not follow.
At the next election, Albuquerque will have had 12 years of rich, white male, white privilege leadership, and all we have to show for it is crime that is out of control, a downtown that has been looted by anarchists and a police department that is not only under a DOJ consent decree, but is now the target of criminal investigations by the State Auditor and Attorney General.
Keller, Geier, Davis and Heinrich all tell Gonzales that he should embrace the current APD. The current APD that cannot control the tsunami crime wave, the APD that is still under DOJ reform (costing us millions each year), the APD that is being criminally investigated for fraud by both the New Mexico Attorney General and the State Auditor, the APD that is ordered to hide from rioters and looters because white male privilege is afraid to confront them, and the APD that lied to all of us about crime statistics.
Gonzales is correct to stay away from embracing APD. The current management and leadership at APD is like a COVID-19 carrier and it will infect all of those people who embrace it.
Those white privilege people only want people of color that they still control. Gonzales is not that man. He thinks for himself, lives in his community and acts in the best interests of his constituents. That angers white privilege supremacists like Heinrich, Keller, Davis and Geier. These white privilege men know they are better than brown-skinned Gonzales, and they believe they must put Gonzales in his place. They believe that Gonzales should not have a voice independent of their all-knowing, white privilege men thoughts.
Heinrich talks about fascism. Here’s the definition of it: “A political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascist) that exalts the nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition.”
So, Sheriff Manny Gonzales dares to think for himself, and white man Heinrich calls for his resignation and tries to drag him back to the plantation and chile fields. Gonzales, a Hispanic, thinks for himself, and whiter-than-white Heinrich demands his resignation. Who is the fascist?
Will Heinrich ride a horse, tie a rope around Gonzales and drag him back to the plantation? Well, demanding that Sheriff Gonzales resign for daring to think for himself and to be his own man is the same thing.
So here’s our advice to Sheriff Gonzales:
Manny, refuse to go back to the chile fields. Continue to disagree with your whiter-than-white overseer, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Just say, “White male privilege has driven New Mexico and Albuquerque into the dust long enough. You privileged white males do not care for New Mexico and the people of this state. You only care about your white privilege, your white power and your white wealth. That changes today!”
The link to the ABQ Report column is here:
In the meantime, Democrat Bernalillo County Sheriff Gonzales did himself no favors by going to the White House to participate in a photo op. He should have known better. New Mexico Democrats, progressive, moderates and conservative, all have absolute hostility for President Trump. Gonzales is now faced with the prospect that he just may have ended his aspirations to being Albuquerque’s next Mayor. At a minimum, any future opponents the Sheriff has, including Tim Keller, will likely portray him as a Trump supporter and a Democrat In Name Only (DINO) and for that reason he should consider changing his party affiliation if he wants to support Trump and any conservative causes.
It is understandable that Sheriff Gonzales had the desire to reach across party lines, but doing so in law enforcement and being the only one and excluding the DA, APD and local courts was a big mistake. Gonzales is encouraged to rethink if he really wants to be Mayor given the fact that the city is faced with so many other problems and not just high crime rates. A law enforcement background and bringing down high crime rates will only go so far in solving the city’s other serious problems such as poverty, the homeless, economic development, high jobless rates, a poor education system, gentrification, city deficits and the pandemic and managing a workforce of over 5,000 with 16 departments with a $1 billion budget. The state has already had a “law and order” Republican Governor as well as a “law and order” Republican Mayor for 8 years and both were a disaster and both had a very warped vision of Albuquerque and they simply did not know what they were doing. It will be the same with Sheriff Gonzlaes.
It would be wise for Senator Martin Heinrich, Mayor Tim Keller, Chief Michael Geier and Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis to be far more sensitive to what is really happening in Albuquerque when it comes to race relations, stop looking at the city through the lenses of white privilege and stop acting like they are here to save us from ourselves. Their own records of fighting crime in the city is dubious at best and a failure, especially Mayor Keller’s efforts after all the promises he has broken on reducing the cities high crime rates. The state and city needs real leadership and not politicians as they are that are engaged in the same type of hyperbole as Trump, but with a progressive flare and tone of self righteousness.