The Albuquerque ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) joined ranks on Feb. 13 with the owner of a local Jewish deli to combat racist attacks on the restaurant. On three occasions within a month, Nosh Deli was vandalized with stickers bearing racist and anti-Semitic slurs, including a postage label with the phrase, “To the k---s who should die.”
The deli had been plastered with similar stickers a few weeks earlier. Before that, the windows were smashed in and the cash box was stolen.
Within 48 hours after the last attack, which made national news, the ANSWER Coalition called a demonstration against racism and bigotry. It was held just around the corner from the deli, on one of the major thoroughfares of Albuquerque. A crowd of about 70 activists and community members raised slogans such as “Racists Not Welcome in ABQ,” “Stop the Hate,” and “An Injury to One Is an Injury to All.”
The protest was endorsed by Stop the War Machine, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center, and other allied groups to denounce these local acts of racism. The demonstration also drew a diverse array of individuals, including those from the Jewish community, the African-American and Latino communities, local families, and some Franciscans.
Jewel Hall, a veteran of the African American civil rights struggle and director of the MLK Memorial Center, urged the people to remain vigilant in combating racists. “If we don't fight back against them,” she said, “they will take over.”
Preston Wood, a founding member of the ANSWER Coalition, echoed Hall's statement, saying that racism and violence will spread if they are not met with organized and unified resistance. He also drew attention to similar acts racist vandalism, such as anti-Semitic graffiti in a nearby playground, and of the N-word scrawled on a dormitory door at the University of New Mexico.
Though ANSWER was the only group to call a demonstration, a group largely composed of right-wing Zionists set up a counter-protest. While also voicing support for the deli owner, they focused as much on opposing the event's organizers as they did on fighting local racism.
Racism, bigotry, and fascism are on the offensive in many parts of the world. The fascist Svoboda party has defined much of the recent protests in the Ukraine. The equally despicable Golden Dawn party has continued its violence against immigrants and leftists in Greece, while maintaining seats in the Greek parliament and controlling much of the Athens police force. Recent demonstrations in France have featured virulent anti-Semitism and ultra-nationalism.
With this in mind, it is vital to take any expression of bigotry in our communities very seriously. Unless we are prepared to stamp out hate and intolerance at their source, they will continue to spread, leading us farther away from a just world.