Updated: June 16, 2020 06:46 PM
Created: June 16, 2020 06:44 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Demonstrators and militia members clashed over a controversial statue of Juan de Oñate during a Monday night protest at Tiguex Park.
“To me, it's not all that important. What's important is that we see all over the country, history being erased, whether its confederate monuments or statues,” said a militia member.
The militia group, known as the New Mexico Civil Guard, is not affiliated with police officers or the military.
“We're here to ward off any would-be vandals,” the militia member said.
On Monday, tensions mounted during the protest when shots were fired at demonstrators. One man was injured by the gunfire.
Militia members said that the shooter, Steven Baca, is not affiliated with the New Mexico Civil Guard, but authorities are still investigating.
“APD opposes vigilante actions. We also discourage the presence of armed citizens at protests which has the potential to escalate violence, not prevent it,” said APD Police Chief Mike Geier.
An APD spokesperson said they seized 13 guns and 34 magazines during the protest.
“We are also working with federal authorities to hold these groups accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Mayor Keller during a Tuesday press conference. “That includes federal hate group designation and prosecution.”
Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 940 hate groups across the country including one in New Mexico known as the Proud Boys.
Another member of the Civil Guard who wanted to remain nameless said the group aims to control violence.
“We were there just to make sure the violence we've seen in other cities did not spread outside of where that statue was,” he said.
“We don't allow any kind of communism, socialism, national socialism, any supremacy of any kind,” he added. “You will be gone and with a quickness if that's your professed beliefs.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has accused the group of inciting the violence during the protest.
APD announced the investigation will be handed over to State Police. The FBI is also assisting with the investigation.
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