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The New Mexico State Police and New Mexico National Guard began diverting traffic at noon on Friday going into Gallup, New Mexico. Photographs by Bronson Peshlaki

GALLUP, N.M. — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham earlier today invoked the state’s Riot Control Act, authorizing her to enact temporary restrictions to mitigate the uninhibited spread of COVID-19 in Gallup, N.M. The authorizing executive order can be found here.

The executive order that went into effect at noon today closed streets into Gallup until noon on Monday, May 4.

Gallup is a border to the Navajo Nation, which has become the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in Indian Country. As of Thursday, there have been 2,141 COVID-19 cases in Navajo Nation, with a death toll for novel coronavirus at 71.

Navajo Nation leaders support the governor’s executive order.

“We fully support the proactive measures implemented by Governor Lujan Grisham, at the request of the City of Gallup,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. “We have many members of the Navajo Nation that reside in Gallup and many that travel in the area and their health and safety is always our top priority. Thank you to the Governor for her leadership and decisive actions. We urge everyone to stay home, stay safe, and save lives!”

Grisham participated in a town hall broadcasted social media on Sunday night said she is working closely with the Navajo Nation as it confronts the deadly virus.

The Gallup lock down continues until noon on Monday, May 4.

“The spread of this virus in McKinley County is frightful,” Grisham said, “It shows that physical distancing has not occurred and is not occurring. The virus is running amok there. It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary. A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this dangerous and this contagious, is a problem for our entire state.

Effective now until Monday, May 4 at noon:  

  •       Businesses will be closed from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. 
  •       Vehicles may only have a maximum of 2 people inside. 
  •       Residents of Gallup should shelter in place unless there is an emergency. 

Gallup city police and McKinley County sheriff’s department will partner with New Mexico State Police and Department of Transportation to enforce the emergency order and road closures. The New Mexico National Guard will also provide support to this effort in a non-law enforcement capacity.

Both outgoing Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney and new Mayor Louis Bonaguidi, who was sworn into office 2:30 p.m., April 30, requested the governor declare a state of emergency under the Riot Control Act, 12-10-16 to 12-10-21 NMSA 1978. Those mayoral letters can be found here and here.

Gov. Grisham used the Riot Control Act to lockdown the city, which says anyone who fails to comply with restrictions imposed under the act is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense is guilty of a fourth-degree felony.

Gallup is in McKinley County, which has reported over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 — more than 30 percent of New Mexico's total COVID-19 cases. 

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].