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The South shall not rise in Socorro

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The main section of a Confederate war memorial in the Socorro Cemetery pays homage to Confederate soldiers who died while fighting in a New Mexico campaign in 1861 and 1862. The memorial was vandalized in mid-July. (El Defensor Chieftain)

The outrage that led to the vandalism and destruction of Confederate memorials around the nation has also reached into the central New Mexico city of Socorro.

The vandalism was reported to Socorro police July 17, and, according to that report, involved damage to the memorial’s pillars as well as damage to a main section that appeared to be from a firearm.

The memorial is located in a section of the Socorro Cemetery – also known as the Socorro Presbyterian Cemetery and the Socorro Masonic Cemetery – that is unsuitable for burials because of the steepness of the slope and the presence of an arroyo, according to a 2012 story in the El Defensor Chieftain newspaper.

The vandalism was also reported in a statement from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, based in Columbia, Tennessee, and the state branch, Sons of Confederate Veterans New Mexico.

Calls to the organization were not returned.

Two components of the memorial, a pillar commemorating a battle at Valverde, and another commemorating a battle at Glorieta, were “completely destroyed,” according to the statement.

The third, and main portion of the memorial, which is labeled “For Southern Independence,” was damaged by gunshots, the statement said.

The engraving on that main portion reads: “This monument honors and perpetuates the memory of the brave Texas citizen volunteers who offered their lives and fortunes for the Confederate States of America” during the 1861-1862 New Mexico campaign.

In its statement, the Sons of Confederate Veterans said it is “dedicated to preserving and presenting the true story of that war as it unfolded in New Mexico Territory in 1862.”

The organization further said it “will never be dissuaded by the ignorant rabble that attempts to erase our history either by lies, propaganda or criminal behavior.”

The memorial was dedicated in 2012 with opponents questioning if anyone on the Socorro City Council or in the city administration vetted or approved the engraved message, if it was a thinly veiled “neo-Confederate” message with white supremacist intent, and about the use of “War for Southern Independence” in place of Civil War, according to an El Defensor Chieftain story written at the time.

In that story, Jim Red, division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, denied there was a “right-wing, neo-Nazi, neo-Southern agenda,” and said the Sons of Confederate Veterans are a “historical society” that gives “the southern viewpoint of the War Between the States.”

Socorro city officials did not specifically address the recent vandalism when contacted by the Journal.

Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker, who was also mayor in 2012, told the Journal on Wednesday that the Confederate war memorial is “a private monument and sits on private property.” The city, he said, “had no part in any statements written on the monument.”

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