NM Gov Grisham invoked the Riot Control Act, which allows the closure of all roads into Gallup, forces businesses to close from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., and requires only two people per car. She did it at the request of Gallup’s former and current Mayors. The Act prohibits residents from being on public streets and the use of certain streets and highways. All in the name of stopping COVID-19. Gallup has a population of around 22,000 and McKinley County stands at just over 71,000.
— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) May 1, 2020
The Riot Control Act can only be in effect until noon on May 4, because it expires the third day after it is put in place. It went into effect at noon on Friday.
Gallup, New Mexico is the County Seat of McKinley County, and is bisected by Interstate 40. The County has 708 cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday (AP). It is also one of the main shopping destinations of the Navajo Nation, which a has 1,504 cases and 58 deaths. The city is now completely locked down.
Native American fallout
In a YouTube video, a Native American lady spoke of the hardships that this lockdown has placed on the tribe. She was adamant that the leader of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, failed them, as locking off the people from being able to buy water and food in Gallup over the weekend is detrimental to the health of many.
Food and water, the basic needs of all people. Was this an “expected” side effect of closing the roads? If not, someone didn’t do their research.
The Riot Control Act also carries a penalty – anyone who fails to comply with restrictions imposed is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense is guilty of a fourth-degree felony. The New Mexico State Police and Gallup Police are partnering together for enforcement. The citations carry a penalty of $1000.
“The virus has caused many deaths, stretched medical facilities and resources to their capacity, and adversely impacted the welfare of the city of Gallup. Our community is unable to adequately address the outbreak without the imposition of certain restrictions necessary to regulate social distancing, public gatherings, sales of good, and the use of public streets.” Former Gallup Mayor Jack McKinney
The current Mayor of Gallup wrote a similar letter. Gov Grisham was supported in her actions by State Senators, Jonathan Nez, state legislators and Health Officials. Her press release is filled with praise from officials all over the state.
“The spread of this virus in McKinley County is frightful and it shows that physical distancing has not occurred and is not occurring. The virus is running amok there. It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary. A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this dangerous and this contagious, is a problem for our entire state. The imperative for all of us to remain home and physically distant has not changed. It is even more crucial for New Mexicans in the northwestern region. But what is happening in the northwest could happen in any part of our state. We must remain vigilant.” Gov Grisham
This action comes as other parts of the state are asking the Governor to adjust her lockdowns so that they can reopen. Her order that all residents wear masks and keeping the full state lockdown in place until at least May 15 has not gone over well. We previously reported on the small town of Grants defying her order. New Mexico has far less COVID-19 cases and deaths than other states.
We’ve already seen that one unseen virus can take away everything we’ve worked to build, as it did for the Navajo lady in the YouTube video. It’s an opportunity, a moment in time when, under the guise of an “emergency,” the government changes our lives and suspends the rule of law that has governed the United States for over 200 years.
Featured photo: Screenshot of road into Gallup being shut down via CBS news on Twitter