The sheriff of New Mexico's largest county said over the weekend that he won't enforce the state's public health order, calling the governor's restrictive measures unconstitutional.
"This year, my office listened to numerous citizens concerned about what have been categorized as oppressive lockdown mandates," Gonzales said. "I sympathize with the families, business owners, children, and houses of worship to the point that they believe that their civil liberties are being compromised."
"Some elected office-holders have prioritized turning everyday citizens into villains for simply attempting to live their lives in the pursuit of happiness," he continued, noting that children in his community are being denied meaningful learning due to school closures, families have to wait in line for hours to buy food and necessities, and many businesses have been permanently shut down.
As of Monday, every one of New Mexico's 33 counties is categorized as "Red" under the state's three-tiered "Red-to-Green" system of measuring the risk of the virus' spread in specific counties. In counties that are at the red tier, where the virus is more prevalent, indoor dining is prohibited, gatherings are restricted to no more than five people, and retailers deemed essential can only operate at no more than 25 percent of maximum occupancy.
Gonzales said his department will keep working to make sure the community is safe from crime, but will not enforce "orders that subvert your constitutional rights."
"My agency's focus will continue to be public safety, apprehending actual criminals, and not harassing everyday citizens attempting to make a life for themselves and their families in Bernalillo County," he said. "I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season."
In response to the video, a spokesperson with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office said that all New Mexicans should agree that the restrictive measures are meant to save lives.