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NM Democrats condemn New Mexico GOP 'racist' mailer

Gino Gutierrez
The stock image of the child getting his hair cut (right) vs the one featured in the Republican mailer (left) at the MLK memorial

State Democratic lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, gathered with community leaders at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial site in Albuquerque Thursday afternoon to condemn an attack ad mailer sent out by the Republican Party of New Mexico (RPNM).

They said the ad, which was paid for the RPNM and sent out to at least nine house districts around that state, featured an image of a person with dark skin cutting the hair of a child that appears to be either white or fair-skinned.

Text next to the image implies that the person with dark skin in the ad is a sexual predator.

The image used in the ad was a stock image and appeared to have been doctored to darken the skin tone of the person representing the sexual predator.

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NM House Democratic Campaign Committee
A comparison of the stock image vs the one in the RPNM's mailer

At the press conference, there was a poster depicting the original stock image vs the one used in the ad.

House Majority Leader Martínez called this one of the worst examples of racism he’s seen in his political career.

Gino Gutierrez
House Majority Leader Javier Martíez called this mailer one of the worst examples of racism he's see.

“I’ve been in politics a long time, both as an elected official, as an advocate, probably more than 20 years and this is one of the most vile examples of racist dog whistles that I have ever seen.”

Martínez went on to say the actions of party officials and leaders have consequences and that he was grateful to be surrounded by community leaders and other elected officials who demand accountability from the RPNM.

Rev. Charles E. Becknell, the president of the New Mexico Christian Leadership Conference and a civil rights activist said images like the one used in this ad will linger in the minds of the public.

Gino Gutierrez
Rev. Charles E. Becknell stands in front of a mural of Martin Luther King Jr.

“These images, we may not realize it. But these images leave scars. I saw signs that said separate water fountains, colored and white. That is embedded in my mind, even to this day and I can’t forget that. Because it hurts and it leaves scars.”

In response to the Democrats press conference, the RPNM released a statement saying in part that “New Mexico House Democrats are crying ‘racist’ over a mailer depicting a child having his haircut by a shadowy figure.”

The release goes on to say the mailer is an “anti-crime” mailer and that is is meant to draw attention to a New Mexico licensure bill that would allow convicted sex offenders to obtain professional licenses, like a barber and beautician.

New Mexico House Republican Whip Rod Montoya called any charge of racism over this mailer “ridiculous”.

Martínez was asked about the Republican response. “To me, it's not about whatever they slapped on the flier, what words they slapped on the flier, it's that image right there, that’s the real issue. The bills both passed with wide bipartisan support.”

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, Gino found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports and sports broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in mass media journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. He can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the NA3HL New Mexico Ice Wolves.