It’s been two weeks since Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry removed Confederate imagery from Old Town after a group of advocates brought attention to the issue. In doing so, Berry ordered that images that “accurately represent our place in the history of the Civil War” would stay up. Plaques indicating Confederate bias would come down, Berry said. But to Elder Michael Jefferson of Procession Ministry, it’s not enough. Today, Old Town still displays replicas of two Mountain Howitzer cannons that Confederates used against Union soldiers in the Skirmish of Albuquerque, as well as a plaque describing the cannons.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry announced Monday that some Confederate imagery on Old Town Plaza, including a Confederate flag, would be removed. Berry announced his plans in a long Twitter post this afternoon. “Those who consider the flag and artifacts to be nothing more than markers of history, should consider those who are deeply offended by the Confederate flag flying in Old Town because they view it as a celebration of an ideology that did not recognize all men as equal and an affront to those who died to ensure freedom for all,” he wrote. Still, Elder Michael Jefferson, who organized a coalition of community leaders and lawmakers around the issue, called on Berry to remove all Confederate-related imagery in Old Town. “We commend the Mayor for removing the Confederate flag and some of the Confederate imagery in Old Town,” Jefferson wrote in a statement Monday evening.
In the early months of the Civil War, Confederates took armed control of New Mexico Territory for just six weeks. But a stroll through the heart of Albuquerque’s Old Town 150 years later suggests a more permanent stay for the Confederate States of America. Though Southern imagery here may seem subtle—no famed Confederate Battle Flag flies over Old Town plaza, for example—multiple monuments commemorating aspects of the Confederacy’s brief hold of Albuquerque are on public display. A “Stars and Bars” banner, the Confederacy’s first official flag, flies over the west side of the Plaza next to Spanish, Mexican, New Mexican and United States flags. Two plaques, one dedicated to the Skirmish of Albuquerque—when Confederate troops held off Union troops for a day and a half before fleeing themselves—and one dedicated to buried Confederate veterans, decorate the east side of Old Town’s Viejo Gazebo.