DA investigating NM Civil Guard after sandwich shop invited them during protests | KOB 4

DA investigating NM Civil Guard after sandwich shop invited them during protests

Megan Abundis
Updated: August 04, 2020 10:17 AM
Created: August 03, 2020 10:15 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After a Friday Black Lives Matter protest, the New Mexico Civil Guard was involved in another confrontation at a sandwich shop on Central and 3rd.

According to APD, the confrontation involved protesters and armed militia men. Police said they tried to end the situation outside the restaurant without violence, but that took a number of hours and police reports from numerous people.

Filling Philly’s general manager Marcy Sanner claims a man named Jim Benvie asked militia members to protect the restaurant over the weekend, but he had no authority to make that request.

“He's the one that brought the militia people here. It was very embarrassing,” Sanner said.

Sanner said the members showed up after she left Friday afternoon.

“Jim has been represented as the owner and he's not the owner. He's represented us as being racist and all this,” she added.

Sanner and other sources who wished to remain anonymous claimed to see men in camouflage with rifles inside the restaurant. Protesters streamed video of that incident.

Police said things heated up to a standoff between the two groups.

“So we are trying to sort out what exactly started this incident, but we were informed that at least one, maybe more people that were armed inside the restaurant maybe outside on certain points both on Friday and Sunday,” said Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesperson.

APD said there was also a report of a man pointing a gun at protesters.

“I just want to say I'm sorry on behalf of our business,” Sanner said. “We are so embarrassed to be represented like that. We don't want anyone in the community to think badly about us because of that. He was the sole person who encouraged this behavior and the only reason they attacked us because he was here.”

Jim Benvie has a criminal record of his own. He was recently found guilty of impersonating a border patrol agent in southern New Mexico. He is also a member of the border militia group in Sunland Park.

Benvie did not want to be interviewed on camera, but claimed the men were there for building security and not confrontation.

People in Albuquerque have called for a boycott against the cheesesteak shop.

“He's basically causing us to go out of business because of this. The landlord came to us and said sell what you have. You don't even have to give thirty days,” Sanner said.

“I'm really upset because I have three kids at home that I have to take care and he doesn't care and that's what makes me so upset,” she added.

After several phone calls, APD said the confrontation ended peacefully.

“We tried several times, our officers to call inside the restaurant we finally got through to some people they were making allegations about the people on the outside. We did make contact with protestors who were for the most part across the street but were yelling back and forth with those inside the restaurant,” Gallegos said.

“Our officers worked really hard to try and get them to disengage and keep this from escalating into something more violent. Same thing with the people inside the restaurant. We were trying to talk to them they had allegations that we wanted to settle this through a police report and let detectives investigate rather than continue to escalate right there on the scene,” he added.

Police said detectives will look into these allegations this week. The district attorney’s office also weighed in and said “We’ve opened an investigation into the conduct of the New Mexico Civil Guard during this weekend’s protest to determine whether a criminal violation occurred or seek a temporary restraining order if necessary…. We will not hesitate to take all appropriate measures to preserve public safety.”


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