As a national debate swirls around statues of Confederate officials, a new battle is brewing in the western US over the fate of monuments glorifying the brutal Spanish conquest of the Americas. Armed vigilantes under scrutiny after statue protester shot in New Mexico. Last week, officials in Rio Arriba county, 40 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, removed the first, a statue of Oñate.
Officials are scrutinizing armed vigilante groups in New Mexico following the shooting of a protester calling for the removal of a controversial colonial statue. Police are examining whether the shooter belonged to New Mexico Civil Guard, whose members were out in force at the Monday demonstration in Albuquerque.
On demo day at the Border Security Expo, hundreds of law enforcement agents armed with M16s, automatic shotguns, pistols, and other high powered and military-grade weapons strolled around the grounds at the Bandera Gun Club outside of San Antonio. The sound of continuous gunfire from the “Sharpshooter Classic”—a multi-staged shooting competition put on by the Border Patrol Foundation—combined with the nearby buzz of a $100k surveillance drone hovering above a grass field in Texas Hill Country.
Treasure hunters have reacted with shock, delight and disbelief to the news that a chest containing gems, gold and antiques worth up to $2m has reportedly been found in the Rocky Mountains. “I’ve had every emotion under the sun,” said Sacha Dent of Kansas, who dedicated years to a quest that resulted in the deaths of up to five people.
When Ken Pimlott began fighting US wildfires at the age of 17, they seemed to him to be a brutal but manageable natural phenomenon. Dust bowl conditions of 1930s US now more than twice as likely to reoccur. “We had periodic [fire] sieges in the 80s, but there were breaks in between,” said Pimlott, the former head of the California department of forestry and fire protection.
On Wednesday, Zion national park in Utah, one of the most popular natural attractions in the US, received its first visitors in more than a month as the Trump administration continued its push to reopen the nation’s outdoors as well as it cities and businesses. More than 4,000 people poured into the beauty spot from numerous states.
Unlike the rest of the US, the sleepy border community of Ajo, Arizona, is busier than ever these days, as hundreds of border wall construction workers pass through each day. “The rest of us are staying at home just the way the governor has ordered,” said Susan Guinn-Lahm, an Ajo resident in her 60s.
“The first time I went, I wanted to cry,” said Lucía, a mother of three, describing how her economic situation would compel her to do the journey from her home in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez to line up outside a blood plasma donation center in El Paso, Texas. There are more than 800 such facilities in the US and they have been expanding around the southern border in recent years, harvesting plasma of a growing number of Mexicans traveling across the border on temporary visas, in need of cash.
Soil is carefully dug and then brushed away and the bags removed from the ground. Inside are bones but also small items that give a touch of humanity and threads of stories where flesh – and names – are missing. A little note. A half-drunk bottle of water. Prayer beads, a soft toy. These are the items that university experts and students from the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State have found when painstakingly exhuming the bodies of migrants who died on their journeys to the United States and ended up in graves at remote county cemeteries on the US-Mexico border.
The Trump administration is sending a new “surge” of rangers from US national parks such as Zion, Yosemite and the National Mall to patrol the southern border for crossings by illegal immigrants. Continuing a controversial policy initiated in 2018, rangers who work in law enforcement will be dispatched to Organ Pipe Cactus national monument on the Arizona and Mexico border as well as Big Bend national park on the border in south-west Texas.
Three months after one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history, the Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, where 22 were killed in an August rampage reopened on Thursday amid tears and smiles from customers and staff as the border city continues to reel from the racially-driven tragedy. The 9am opening began with the raising of the American flag – which had been flown at half-staff since the attack – and the unfurling of an “El Paso Strong” banner, a slogan which is now found on bumper stickers, shirts and buildings throughout the city.