New Mexico militia member opens fire on protesters demanding removal of controversial statue

“This is not the first report of heavily armed civilian militias appearing at protests around New Mexico in recent weeks.”

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This last Monday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a peaceful protester was shot by a right-wing militia group member. 

The protesters at this event were demanding the removal of a statue of a controversial Spanish conquistador. “La Jornada,” better known as Juan de Oñate, was a conquistador from the late 1500s who destroyed a village of Indigenous people in the territory that later became New Mexico.

According to Truthout, only 200 individuals from a village of 2,000 survived the onslaught of Oñate’s forces in what is known as the Acoma Massacre. Indigenous men who survived had one foot amputated and were enslaved for 20 years after the event. Children were captured, and sent off to be raised by missionaries, with many likely becoming enslaved themselves. On the 400th anniversary of that incident, Native activists cut off the right foot of a bronze Oñate statue installed on that occasion in Alcalde, New Mexico.

The militia group, who were carrying semiautomatic rifles and who call themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard, arrived to protect the statue. 

One of the protesters took out a pickaxe and chaos erupted from there as tensions between the protesters and the militia increased. 

In the midst of the scuffle, a man was shot and remains in serious but stable condition at a local hospital. 

New Mexico’s governor, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, has vowed to hold those who instigated this violence accountable. 

The  New Mexico Civil Guard told CNN the shooter was not apart of their group, but that remains under investigation. “I am calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting that just occurred in front of the Albuquerque Museum. This is not the first report of heavily armed civilian militias appearing at protests around New Mexico in recent weeks. These extremists cannot be allowed to silence peaceful protests or inflict violence,” says U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.

CNN reported: According to a criminal complaint from Albuquerque police, cell phone footage recorded by a bystander shows a man in a blue shirt, later identified as Steven Ray Baca, 31, appearing to protect the statue. The complaint says Baca eventually left the area of the statue but was pursued by some people from the crowd.

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