On the day the votes from the Electoral College were scheduled to be certified, recognizing Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, New Mexican supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump took their cars, trucks and horses to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to protest unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
The Jan. 6 protest came on the heels of a pro-Trump insurrection by far-right radicals at the U.S. Capitol building on the same day. Extremists stormed the halls of Congress and halted the Electoral College vote count with little resistance from Capitol police. The protests in Washington left five dead, and arrests continue to be made with a litany of federal charges facing the rioters.
New Mexico House GOP leadership issued a statement condemning the protests in the U.S. Capitol. However, New Mexico Congresswoman-elect Yvette Herrell voted against certifying the election later in the evening after the Capitol building was cleared and secured.
As the day progressed, the Roundhouse was evacuated as a precaution as hundreds of people gathered in front of the state capitol.
Tables were set up in front of the doors of the Roundhouse with petitions to impeach Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and far-right propaganda was handed out reiterating Trump’s misinformation that the presidential election was stolen.
Some crowd members held signs with messages of “stop the steal” and “cheaters never win” alongside numerous Trump 2020 flags. The messaging from the crowd was consistent with that from Trump, spreading misinformation about the results of the 2020 elections among other QAnon right-wing propaganda and baseless conspiracy theories.
One of the few participants of the rally who agreed to speak to the media, who declined to give his full name, said he heard about Wednesday’s rally through a tweet sent out by the Piñon Post, a pro-Trump blog.
“People are questioning and needing confirmation on how the vote went … and that’s why people are here, as they feel they are not being heard,” Jared said.
Many election protesters at the Roundhouse were seen with firearms and dressed in full military garb. About four had AR-15 military-style rifles with handguns as they “watched” over the proceedings.
Toward the end of the rally, tensions escalated as Trump supporters had a skirmish with counter-demonstrators.
New Mexico State Police were called and on scene with the Santa Fe Police Department to deescalate the situation, staying until tension dissipated and the crowd dispersed.
Some members of the crowd continued their demonstration up the road to the Governor’s Residence, but the majority of the crowd dispersed and left the Roundhouse peacefully as the evening creeped upon them.
Nick Romero is a staff photographer and freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @nicromerophoto