Fred F. McCaffery
Passed January 13, 2003

Albuquerque News Editor Fred McCaffery studied for the priesthood as his mother wished. Near the end of his studies his mother died and he went to her funeral. As he told it, he never returned to the seminary.

McCaffery became a writer and political advisor. He was never far from his Catholic upbringing. He wrote for and edited many Catholic publications for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. McCaffery was press secretary during New Mexico Gov. Dave Cargo's first of his two two-year terms.

McCaffery's writing style, when applied to captioning my photographs, often contained a metaphoric, moralistic and preaching quality to it. Though it might not pass strict journalistic style manuals it had an appealing way.

He encouraged me to look for and capitalize on the hypocritical aspects of the events I photographed.

McCaffery wrote the caption for a June 5, 1969 edition of the Albuquerque News' photograph of Muhammad Ali. He was still unwilling to call Ali by his chosen name rather than by his given name. The times were changing and I believe McCaffery was adapting quit well even if he was influenced by the resistance to acknowledge Ali changed his name February 26, 1964, the day after beating Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship. Ali's Championship was revoked in 1967 after citing his Islamic beliefs as a conscientious objector refusing to be inducted into the military. Two years later the Supreme Court overturned Ali's five-year sentence for draft evasion.

Avenging Angel

This is Mark Bralley's striking view of Muhammad Ali-Cassius Clay when he spoke at Popejoy Hall on the University of New Mexico campus for the Kiker Memorial Foundation recently. The picture has some of the eerie quality of the things Clay says -- direct, slightly hyperbolic and dramatic in the contrast of all-black versus all-white. The only ironic thing is that the harsh light of the stage makes Clay look like the one thing he would never want to be: a white man.

McCaffery received an angry call from Ali saying he had been informed of the photo and caption. He was angry at the statement that he looked, "like the one thing he would never want to be: a white man."

The photograph was entered and won the Albuquerque Press Club's Best Photograph of 1969.

McCaffery ran a front-page photograph and an additional 12 photographs on three interior half pages. McCaffery wrote the captions and accompanying text for the July 31, 1969 issue.
Thursday, July 31, 1969 Volume VIII, Number 9
State's Largest Weekday Circulation 7¢ Per Copy
That title above? It means "the raising up," sort of the "deification" of someone -- and so it seems to fit the picture at right, in which a controversial New Mexican, Reies Lopez Tijerina, stands silhouetted against the sun. But the tenor of this story, which begins with the photo on this page and continues with more picture coverage which follows on other pages is that this moment, in early June of this year, was the beginning of the end of the fiery Mexican agitator. Those who have been close to him seem to feel that the man himself believe this is the closing-in, the beginning of the end -- that late 1969 will close off his career in New Mexico. (As Jimmy Hoffa now knows, it's hard to rule as emperor of anything from a cell.) And if your asking yourself as some people seem to do when they see anything at all about Tijerina, "Why bring him up?" perhaps this paper's answer would be a double one: we had the good fortune to get our hands on some extraordinary photos which show the man in actual operation in what may have been the days which led to his downfall; and we think our readers are sound enough to make their own judgments, pro or con, on Tijerina or anything else. So this photo story is our attempt to show it as it was. (Now see page 5.)
The Decline and Fall?

Busy Man

The Federal marshal in Albuquerque has been busy this summer. Here he takes a famous prisoner named Tijerina, a regional agitator, to jail in chains, on another page of this paper you see him transporting a national trouble maker named Robert DePugh to jail. Each of these men has chosen in his own way to set himself up as a savior of the people -- and the pictures here, taken by Mark Bralley, give, we think, an extraordinary insight into the activities of one who has taken advantage of our local scene as a background for his own self-dramatization. With the pictures, Bralley, who was a witness at one of the recent hearings in which Tijerina was the defendant, also brought us tape recordings of the sounds at many of the events shown here. The pictures cover the period in which the leader of the Alianza went to Washington to "arrest" Supreme Court Justice-designate Burger and the days immediately following, which culminated in his latest arrest.

Tijerina the Listener

It's an unusual set of poses for Reies Tijerina -- to be seen twice listening rather than talking. But the photo above, taken while one of his followers addresses the group which met with him in New Mexico after he returned from Washington, shows what this paper has already suggested may be the tragic flaw which brings down a man who starts out with a prophetic vision: the arrogance which makes him listen only to his own voice, follow only his own guidance. The picture below shows how far this motive took him. Who would expect the poor child of Mexican-American parents, whose life while he was young was almost literally one of starvation, to get to where the much esteemed and highly honored Senator Dirksen would be forced to acknowledge his presence. (The tapes show that Senator was less than gracious; he referred to Tijerina and his purpose in coming to Washington as "silly" and "stupid." But he had to admit that Tijerina was there, and that alone was probably enough to justify in his mind the Alianza leader's moves.)

(Picture story continued on page 8.)

More picture story:

"Tijerina: Decline and Fall?"

Direct Action

After the Washington confrontation came other moves. In the photo above Tijerina leads his followers to "arrest" Dr. Norris Bradbury, head of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Tijerina's position on his now famous"citizen's arrest," as he explains it in great detail on the tapes we have, is that power corrupts; so men who have power in our society, being corrupt, must be arrested; since no officer of the law will perform the task, if it becomes the duty of the plain citizen to do so. This kind if arrest he refers to, in his sometimes scrambled English, as "the greatest detergent to police corruption that has been found." This page shows other efforts he and his group made to deter what the see as police and political corruption. (Some say the actions were plain and simple defiances, so that they would be arrested -- punished -- and hence martyred.) At right, a member prepares some rudimentary Molotov cocktails -- which all serious radicals must know how to make in America this year. Below that, Tijerina's wife sits in their car with the rifle they took along "for protection." Below that, she pours gasoline on the Forest Service sign she later set on fire. It was this action, not the leader's abortive attempts to arrest a Supreme Court Justice, Governor David Cargo or Dr. Bradbury, which led to the finale below, in which Tijerina is being apprehended by the law, as his son looks on from the left of the photo, some of his friends stir restlessly in the background and his "bodyguard," at right watches in frustration. Tijerina's mistake: he went for the rifle in the car. That moment may have been his downfall.

(Picture story continued on page 21.)

More picture story:

"Tijerina: Decline and Fall?"

The Heritage

Some notion of the fact that the final act is in progress appears in the face of "the leader" in the photo at right. (Those manacles on your wrist can give a feeling of real finality -- a long way from the glee with which the carload of Tijerinistas had greeted the word, which they got a few days before on KOB over their car radio, that Governor Cargo had been "whisked away" by the State Police to protect him from them.) But while you can lock up a man who disobeys the law, as Americans above all should know (remember the War of Independence?), it's hard to lock up an idea. The idea that some injustices have been done to Spanish-Americans is not a new one, and it was hardly original with Tijerina, who is after all a Johny-come-lately on the local scene. But there is no doubt if the fact that the man has been a rallying point, of principally for the old, the dejected, the already-defeated, of the kind you see in the picture immediately below. But he has also been a "model" to many who are young -- and being young, are full if fire. The Spanish-American gift if oratory which you see being exercised in the photo at right will long be used in this country, and many who will use it well will not necessarily use it for good. Where once the poor did not denounce those who had more that they, they have now learned that they too may speak. It would be foolish, after that lesson is learned, to expect silence. There will probably never be silence from the chicano here again -- and much of what he has to say is probably hinted at in the message photographed below, scrawled on a wall in one of Albuquerque's barrios. It's not a pleasant message, but it's very, very real.

--Fred F. McCaffery