Bernalillo County Sheriff Deputy Jim Goff’s July 17 comments were captured in the following video footage and posted on YouTube by a street-preaching group:
Goff, an 18-year veteran deputy, was ordering the protesters to leave a sidewalk outside a pavilion in Albuquerque where the heavy-metal concert was scheduled to take place. He said the area was private property belonging to Hard Rock Casino and threatened to take the protesters to jail unless they vacated the area.
The protesters complied but argued with deputies as they left the site.
Heavy-metal rocker Rob Zombie, formerly known as Robert Cummings, founded White Zombie, a group that disbanded in 1998. He has also directed horror films such as “House of 1,000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects.” Zombie has toured with Ozzy Osbourne. His songs often feature lyrics that some believe are satanic.
Zombie was performing at the pavilion, which has a 15,000-seat capacity and hosts large concerts. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the pavilion is on state trust land and owned by the state of New Mexico. It was leased to Bernalillo County in the 1990s. The county subleases the 15-acre tract of land to Live Nation, an entertainment company that operates the facility.
Members of the Christian group had been wearing T-shirts that said “Trust Jesus” and shouting at the crowd with a megaphone, warning of eternal damnation for those who “indulge themselves in this wicked sin” and urging them to “be born again.”
Jeremy De los Santos, one of the protesters, told KRQE-TV 13 his group believed it was on public property because it was outside the pavilion. He admitted to arguing with deputies when asked to leave.
De los Santos can be heard on video saying, “It’s our constitutional right. These people are free right here to be out here, why can’t we?”
Goff yelled to the Rob Zombie fans, “Guys, do you want them to stay or go?!”
The crowd shouted, “Go!”
“Had they said ‘stay,’ would we have been OK to stay?” De los Santos asked a KRQE-TV reporter. “Then it wouldn’t have been private property, and so it seemed the officer was on the side of the crowd. … Really, in all reality what happened, a group of Christians got ran off the property by an atheist who happens to be a police officer.”
De los Santos is not asking for the department to reprimand Goff. But he said he believes the deputy should receive proper training on crowd control because, he said, Goff’s comments could have started a fight between the crowds.
Goff argued with the Christian group as members recorded his comments, saying, “People don’t want to see that. … You must have a crush on me, man. Are you like a gay homosexual or something like that? You keep filming me!”
The protesters were taken down the street from the event, and one deputy with the last name of Allen ordered a protester to turn his video camera off.
Catholic protester Naomi Morega told KRQE-TV 13 she thought Goff’s comments were “sad.”
“He’s here to protect us and here to protect the public, and he’s shouting his own beliefs toward other people,” Morega said.
According to KRQE-TV 13, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzalez said the department would begin an internal investigation today.