Santa Fe Occupies the Railyard

By Matthew Reichbach

The Occupy Santa Fe members are settled in at the Railyard Park near Cerrillos Road and next to the train tracks that carry riders from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Nearly two dozen tents dot the Railyard Park around a circular grass field. No tents, the rules at the north end of the encampment say, can be erected on the grass.

On the grass, a family plays soccer while others gather in groups. Some gather near a fire pit that puts off more smoke than heat as the wood burns down, discussing what role the banks had in the economic downturn that still envelops the country. A young man walks around, offering the last piece of pizza (green chile pizza) to anyone before he can dispose of the box in the “cardboard” recycle bin located near the kitchen tent.

Some of the tents are big enough to house a family, others barely big enough for a man to sleep in. All signal that some protesters are willing to stay as long as they believe necessary to get the word out.

There is a sense of permanence and rhythm to the camp that comes from the protesters camping together.

The group is organized; Judy Welte sends out emails to a list with some articles to read that would be relevant to the movement (which includes at least one Clearly New Mexico piece).

The difference between Occupy Santa Fe and (Un)Occupy Albuquerque is immediately evident. While the Albuquerque part of the worldwide Occupy movement has spent nearly a week fighting for its right to demonstrate at the University of New Meixco, the Santa Fe branch of the movement secured a permanent home at Railyard Park.

The Albuquerque protesters were told that they can use city parks, but only during regular park hours.

Other efforts at outreach

One similarity between the Tea Party movement that has had a massive effect on politics, especially within the Republican Party, and the Occupy movement is a distrust of the traditional and mainstream media. With the rise of the internet, however, the movements can bypass the traditional media gatekeepers and get the news out on their own.

One example is what Welte is doing with her regular emails pointing out news that may be relevant to the cause. The Occupy Santa Fe movement also posts all of their meetings’ minutes on its website, OccupySantaFeNM.org. A Twitter account, @OccupySantaFe, and Occupy Santa Fe Facebook page are also set up to get the word out.

Welte told Clearly New Mexico that before getting involved in the movement, she had never used Facebook. Now the Occupy Santa Fe Facebook page has nearly 3,000 “likes” — a little more than their counterparts in Albuquerque.

Brad Laughlin is doing his own thing to get the word out. As the executive director of Corelight, a “spiritually-based non-profit” based in Santa Fe, he is providing a camera and microphone to let the protesters tell their own stories to the world.

“We want to just hear from people, hear why they’re here, learn from people, what they’re thinking and feeling and why they came,” Laughlin told Clearly New Mexico. Laughlin says that they will be putting the videos up on YouTube.

“We’re really just trying to document people’s authentic experiences and what’s happened to them,” Laughlin said.

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Work Till You Die! – April 28

by Terry Schleder, NM Alliance for Retired Americans

Ever wonder why the Tea Party cries crocodile tears over the national debt while campaigning against the actual saving of money?  Perhaps it’s because the distraction has worked.

Progressive social programs that made the American Middle Class happen – Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid – are officially up for grabs, having been scapegoated since the 80’s (openly), and maybe earlier. (Disclaimer: I get nauseous when I research it any further back than my entire voting life.)

Tax Day came and went this year, but its theatrical backdrop of a budget “discussion” in DC rings hollow across the US in state capitols where middle class public employees are finally refusing to play the scapegoat. This pushback against the uber-rich puppeteers of the past four decades rocks, but is it enough to save our community programs?

In this particular time of crises, when States are feeling the abandonment of federal responsibility like a downhill-rolling M1 Abrams tank, is it also possible for Progressives to envision and protect a caring, strong government that enables us to keep our promises to a healthy middle class?

Some folks think so, so they’re hoping we all show up for the National Day of Action to save our community programs.

Work Till You Die!” actions in NM and across the US will happen on Thursday, April 28.  We’ll tell our lawmakers that we’re fighting back for strong community programs that strengthen the middle class.  Join the NM Alliance for Retired Americans , Ole NM and others as we thank our Congressional champions of middle class security and hold others accountable for abandoning us.

Thurs., April 28 – ABQ & Las Cruces – “Work Till You Die!” events

12 Noon – In Downtown ABQ in front of the SSA office on 5th & Lead

12 Noon – In Las Cruces Rally in front of Rep. Steve Pearce’s office.

Fortunately, it looks like some folks are, indeed, coming out of the fog of distraction to question the radical policies that do little more than preserve CEO vacations in the Cayman Islands.

In fact, there’s even reason to believe people in New Mexico are smelling a rat. This year’s Tea Party Tax Day protest was half the size of their same shindig last year.

And instead of encountering 30 rag-tag Raging Grannies and Retiree activists from our beleaguered public worker unions, the ABQ Tea Party this year faced hundreds who came out to protest corporate welfare.

Hell, even some young conservatives are starting to question the within their own hypocrisy.

Now if we can just get them to realize that – despite WI Rep. Paul Ryan’s awesome muscles – his budget plan will tank their Social Security & Medicare, maybe we’ll make some progress.

Terry is NM Field Staff for the NM Alliance for Retired Americans. He’s worked in public health policy, research and advocacy for too long in NM and a couple big cities. He holds an MPH degree from UNM but thinks his working class background taught him stuff, too.