Former Las Cruces, New Mexico, City Councilman Gabe Vasquez is running for U.S. Congress in 2022 to uphold and protect a system that Las Cruces Black Lives Matter protester James Hall wanted to tear down in June 2020.
Which is weird, because it turns out, they’re the same person.
Confused? Well, let’s go back to an ugly period of unrest which followed the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. During a protest in Las Cruces, a local reporter interviewed someone identified as James Hall.
“Hall,” wearing a bandanna over his face along with sunglasses and a hat, said defunding the police simply wasn’t enough.
“We need serious police reform in this country,” the man said over chants of “no justice, no peace.”
“It’s not just about defunding police. It’s about defunding a system that privileges white people over everybody else.”
Mr. Hall was apparently a Las Cruces resident, just another angry guy expressing some pretty radical opinions. Don’t just defund police, defund whiteness.
In 2022, Vasquez is running to unseat Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell in New Mexico’s Second Congressional District. According to Ballotpedia, all three major race-trackers view the contest as a toss-up. He’s running as “a champion for economic justice, equal pay for equal work, affordable housing and high-quality healthcare for all,” according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
But most of all, he believes the GOP is the party of division.
“Seeing the impacts to our democracy and to our communities in southern New Mexico, and really across the country, from this division that Republicans have created at the national level and how it’s trickling down … I decided to step up,” Vasquez told the Sun-News in 2021 when he announced his candidacy.
Which, again, is weird, because he’s apparently the same guy who says he’s all “about defunding a system that privileges white people over everybody else.” On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon cited a source within city government who had monitored the protests and said Vasquez and Hall were one and the same.
“Contemporaneous evidence reviewed by the Free Beacon … supports the assertion,” the conservative outlet reported.
“Vasquez tweeted live from the event on June 6, 2020, sharing first-person photos accompanied with the hashtags ‘BlackLivesMattters [sic]’ and ‘Las Cruces.’ Six months later, Vasquez shared a photo that showed him sporting the same distinct, teal-and-orange neck gaiter he wore in the interview.”
Not only that, the gaiter is sold by a small fly-fishing firm called Where the River Runs — whose owner, Gregg Flores, was interviewed by Vasquez, who’s an “avid angler.” He’s also a fixture in the comments section on the business’ Facebook page.
NM will not be safe if Gabe Vasquez is elected!
The Democratic Congressional candidate gave a fake name after spewing an anti-law enforcement rant advocating for defunding our police to a reporter at a BLM protest. Now he’s is trying to bury the evidence.https://t.co/4UvlyRtgYm pic.twitter.com/p5RXyGjVif
— Republican Party of New Mexico (@NewMexicoGOP) September 26, 2022
Most of this social media evidence has been deleted — but after the Free Beacon’s story was published, Vasquez admitted most of the reporting was accurate.
Although Vasquez’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment by the Free Beacon before publication, he told Politico that, yes, he was “James Hall” and he did talk about “defunding a system that privileges white people over everybody else.”
The detail the Free Beacon got wrong, he insisted, was that the pseudonym “James Hall” was given to the local affiliate by Vasquez himself.
“Gabe did not give a fake name,” a campaign spokesperson said. “That name was attributed to him by the news station when he declined to give his name as he wanted the focus to be on the organizers.”
UPDATE: @Gabe_NM (aka Gabe Incognito, according to @politico) confirms he called to defund police in a 2020 interview he refused to put his name behind. Says the TV station made up the pseudonym he used. (We of course contacted the campaign before publishing and didn’t hear back) https://t.co/M3W0vDig0O pic.twitter.com/bivuUfJ1GD
— Collin Anderson (@CAndersonMO) September 26, 2022
Which explains the mask, the sunglasses and the hat, of course. Gabe Vasquez is such a political celebrity in Las Cruces that the man can’t walk down the street without being mobbed by Black Lives Matter activists and other citizens. Also, if he wanted the focus to be on the organizers, a handy way to do this would be to refrain from talking to TV stations at all.
But this is all something of a digression, because no matter who came up with “James Hall” as a pseudonym, the fact remains Gabe Vasquez represents, in a microcosm, the Democrats’ hypocrisy on political divisiveness going into the midterms.
Vasquez, remember, threw his hat into the congressional ring because of “this division that Republicans have created at the national level and how it’s trickling down.” That statement was made just over a year after he called for defunding the entire system — at least the part of it which “privileges white people over everybody else.”
And that duplicitous division is trickling down from the top, too. President Joe Biden, remember, promised to heal and unify the nation from whatever damage Donald Trump did to it.
“With full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and in each other, with a love of country and a thirst for justice, let us be the nation that we know we can be,” Biden said in his victory speech on Nov. 7, 2020. “A nation united. A nation strengthened. A nation healed.”
A little less than two years later, standing in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall — floodlit in a blood red, which invited Nuremburg comparisons for whatever reason — this is what the healer had to say in a nationally televised address: “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country … MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”
Gabe Vasquez’s only mistake was that he got it backwards. Get elected on the healing-our-division hooey first. Then you bring out the whole spiel about defunding whiteness or whatever the incendiary bee in your bonnet happens to be. Even Joe Biden, a high-mileage vehicle in the mental acuity department on the best of days, grasped that much.
Point is, don’t expect this race to stay a toss-up for long — not, at least, with this clip playing ad nauseam on local television, as it almost certainly will. If only you could have just kept your mouth shut until after this November, Gabe. Or James. Whatever.
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