La Alianza Federal de Mercedes
On June 5, 1967, the Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants), led by Reies Tijerina, raided the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse. The Alianza collective occupied the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse and attempted a citizens’ arrest of the District Attorney to assert political dissent.
The courthouse raid remains a controversy because of the violence it caused; one prison guard was shot and killed. Media portrayals at the time often framed the Alianza as “insurrectionists,” an assertion supported by U.S. Military’s massive reservist response.
Although it is tragic this protest claimed a life, it is also unfortunate that this tragedy obscured the Alianza’s cause from receiving due consideration by the public. Their cause was for restitution over how their ancestral land—first given to them by the Spanish Land Grants—had been mishandled during the region’s transition from Mexican to United States’ government. (Land rights which federal wilderness programs were continuing to diminish.)