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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democrats and civil rights leaders in New Mexico are sharply denouncing the leader of the Cowboys for Trump group after he posted a Facebook live video calling for some Black athletes to "go back to Africa." New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf tweeted late Monday that Couy Griffin's comments were racist and demanded that he resign from his Otero County Commissioner seat. U.S. Rep. and Democratic Senate candidate Ben Ray Luján said Griffin's remarks "racist and hurtful language" and called on Democrats and Republicans to denounce him. Griffin also said any person of color who didn't identify as "American" first should "go back."


BAYARD, N.M. (AP) — A graduate of a southwestern New Mexico high school is fighting the state's lieutenant governor over his call to remove a baseball stadium's logo of a Native American caricature. The Deming Headlight reports Samantha "Sami" Morales has started a petition aimed at keeping the "Chief Wahoo" logo from the main sign at Cobre High's baseball stadium in Bayard, New Mexico. She says the logo, offensive to some Native Americans, is a source of pride at the school. Lt. Gov. Howie Morales recently asked the Cobre Consolidated School District superintendent to remove the logo amid racial injustice protests across the U.S.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The mother of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia will serve 12 years for failing to protect her son from ongoing abuse and a deadly beating. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 38-year-old Tracy Ann Pena was sentenced Monday in Santa Fe for her role in the Nambe boy's killing. She was actually sentenced to 21 years but had nine suspended as part of a plea deal. Valencia's body was found inside a plastic container in a roadside grave near Nambe in January 2018. Prosecutors say he died after months of abuse inflicted on him by 21-year-old Jordan Nunez and Nunez's father, Thomas Ferguson. Pena was dating Ferguson at the time.


KIRKLAND, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico restaurant that sparked anger for erecting a sign that blamed China for the pandemic has had its food service permit suspended. The Farmington Daily Times reports the New Mexico Environment Department suspended the food service permit last week for the Country Family Restaurant after accusing the Kirtland, New Mexico, restaurant of violating statewide health orders. That order prohibits indoor dining and requires workers to wear masks. Country Family Restaurant owner Steve Jackson told The Daily Times the state has not shown any proof that indoor dining increases the spread of COVID-19. In March, Jackson generated anger for posting a sign blaming China for the coronavirus.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The founder of the political group Cowboys for Trump urged people who support the playing of the Black National Anthem at football games to "go back to Africa." In a 35-minute video speech on Facebook live Sunday, Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin of New Mexico said supporters of the Black National Anthem want to "destroy our country." At least 2,200 people watched the video before it was removed from the Cowboys for Trump website. Harold Bailey, the president of the Albuquerque chapter of the NAACP, called the remarks some of the most hateful things he's heard in recent memory. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say the state has shattered its record on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day. The state said Monday it has recorded 467 new cases of the novel coronavirus. That tops a July 23 report when New Mexico recorded 338 cases. New Mexico now has a total of 19,502 confirmed cases. The state also reported that five more people have died from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 619. Officials said there are 159 people hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. There also are 7,459 COVID-19 cases designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A member of a New Mexico school board who made a key vote that ended up removing the name of a Spanish conquistador from a high school now regrets her decision. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Carol Cooper of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education said she wishes she could go back in time and reverse her decisive July 14 vote to remove the name of Don Juan de Oñate from Oñate High School. Las Cruces school board members voted 3-1 in favor of changing the name during a virtual special meeting July 14. It remains unclear if the board can revisit.


NEW YORK (AP) — After repeatedly being denied service by high-end salons because her hair was seen as too difficult to style, Kanessa Alexander took an unusual step. She opened a shop of her own in a predominantly white Boston neighborhood with four Black stylists serving all hair textures. Alexander and more than a dozen other people of color in the industry trace such discrimination in mostly white salons to the sidelining of formal education on tightly curled, coiled or kinky hair. Horror stories are also common among Black consumers, from refusal of service to botched treatments by stylists.