Despite Arrest, St. Alice Fiesta a Welcoming Event

A view of the Dr. Saul Community Center, filled with streamers, and attendees sharing a meal
Attendees at the St. Alice Fiesta Lunch Meal - Todd Brogowski/Mountainair Dispatch
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At the door to the Dr. Saul Community Center, a woman sold raffle tickets and made sure that attendees knew that food was being served. A crowd of families gathered in line for food. Others sat, laughing and chatting loudly at the tables. Beneath crepe paper streamers, roughly 96 to 120 people gathered for the St. Alice Roman Catholic Church and Missions Parish Fiestas.

Outside the community center, the town had blocked off North Roosevelt Avenue from Beal Street to the alley that runs past the Municipal Court and United Business Bank. Vendors sold shaved ice, jewelry, sweets, and aguas fresca. On the other side of the police tape used to block off the road, two Torrance County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) SUVs idled.

A man in his late twenties or early thirties, in a high-viz green athletic t-shirt, paced from the entrance to the community center up to the table where steam trays and crock pots held food, then back to the front of the community center. His demeanor was nervous, with an intense, focused gaze, and his walking pace was faster than what most people used when walking at a social event. The man walked back to the west side of the community center (where the stage is located), where he got a plate of food that he took to a table by the entrance on the east side of the community center.

Jack Borders prior to his arrest - Todd Brogowski/Mountainair Dispatch

This man in the green shirt turned out to be Jack Borders, 29 years old, and wanted on a bench warrant for failing to appear before the 7th Judicial District on allegations of two counts of burglary, two counts of criminal trespass, and one count of larceny. According to allegations in a complaint filed by TCSO investigator Alex Schwerdel on April 10, 2023, Borders stole clothing and goods valued at less than $250.00 from the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store drop box on multiple occasions between March 29, 2023, and April 5, 2023. Schwerdel, in his sworn complaint, indicated that Borders had been seen engaging in larceny by way of a game camera positioned to record footage of the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store drop box by a  witness. While the witness is known, the Mountainair Dispatch will not identify them until the time of trial. Pending trial, these allegations are not considered substantiated.

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TCSO deputies surveilled Borders on the date of the fiesta, waiting until Borders was walking on Beal Street, fifty yards west of the community center, to detain Borders, frisk him, and arrest him. No attendees of the event confirmed witnessing the arrest with the Mountainair Dispatch. While this is based on speculation, the deputies apparently waited to arrest Borders until he was a safe distance from fiesta attendees.

An Aside: Negativity Bias in News Coverage and False Causation (click to open)

There is a tendency amongst reporters and readers of news towards what is known as negativity bias, towards a predisposition to focus on crime, torrid moral violations, and heartwrenching epic tragedies. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature (affiliate link) and other books, warns readers to steel themselves against negativity bias.

"Journalism has a built-in bias toward the negative, because bad things are sudden and newsworthy (a shooting rampage, a war, an epidemic), while good things are gradual and boring (a crime decline, a spreading peace, a longevity rise)." – Steven Pinker, Correct for the Media's Negativity Bias, Politico (2019).

It may be easy to think that the arrest of an individual is a microcosm of a larger crime wave. That would be a mistake. Only looking at the macrocosm, the crime data for an area, can show the prevalence of crime. As Pinker notes, violence and crime have been on the decline leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, science frequently warns against making the assumption that correlation is causation. Just because an arrest occurred during the time of the St. Alice Fiesta does not mean that there is a causal link between the event and the alleged misconduct underlying the Borders arrest.

All efforts will be made to include data journalism that can demonstrate trends regardless of whether they confirm or contradict the negativity bias.

TLDR: Just because a crime is discussed does not mean there is a trend of increasing crime and violence in an area or tied to a group of people. There is a bias towards believing as such. This news site will work to provide data-driven journalism that will demonstrate trends to counteract the tendency towards the negativity bias.

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