District attorney asks court for quick ruling against New Mexico Civil Guard
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It took barely more than nine minutes for Bryce Provance to abruptly end a March legal deposition that sought to learn more about him and his history with the New Mexico Civil Guard.
Provance, who helped found the group and then cut ties with it when news reports revealed his white supremacist past, refused to identify himself for nearly half the interview, handed over lewd drawings criticizing the legal process, and claimed to have Fifth Amendment constitutional rights against self-incrimination when it came to divulging his name or identifying the Declaration of Independence.
The deposition was part of a suit filed by a team of legal experts and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez in 2020, asking the court to bar the group from acting as an “unlawful military unit” and patrolling New Mexico streets on its own.
Despite having left the group, the Civil Guard designated Bryce Provance to respond for it in the context of the lawsuit. The legal action came after militia members took it upon themselves to protect a city-owned statue that depicted Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate during a protest. The event turned violent and ended with the shooting of a protestor by another man, Steven Ray Baca, who was not involved with the New Mexico Civil Guard.
Provance was so combative, the district attorney said Tuesday, that he’s filed a motion for a default judgment against the New Mexico Civil Guard. Such a decision would end the suit and effectively bar the group from acting as it has in the past.
"It’s a pretty extreme outcome, I will say, but it’s warranted under the circumstances, given the extreme conduct that was demonstrated," said Torrez in an interview with KOB 4. He said the group has repeatedly thumbed its nose at the legal process as the suit moves forward. He also noted some degree of irony that the Civil Guard refused to respect the laws it claimed to uphold under the United States Constitution.
Attorney Mark Baker, who conducted the deposition, called it a troubling reminder of why it’s dangerous to let private citizens act in a police or military capacity.
"Say your full name and spell your last name for the record," began Baker in a recording of the deposition.
"No comment,” said Provance.
"You’re declining to identify yourself on the record?"
"On what basis?"
"Fifth Amendment right," said Provance, taking from his coat a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a book by Arizona conspiracy theorist Milton William Cooper, and a piece of folded brown paper.
Provance refused to describe the collection as anything more than “personal documents,” but handed them to Baker when he asked.
"So one is a torn piece of what looks like maybe a paper bag and has a picture of what looks like the devil and Georgetown Law and people inside in flames. Is that right?" asked Baker, who is working with a group at Georgetown University that provides legal expertise on illegal militias.
“No,” said Provance. “The devil’s in flames."
The second drawing depicted Provance in a sexual act with a character labeled “Your Mom.”
"What relevance does this have to the deposition today?" Baker asked.
"It was to make me smile when I had to look at you,” replied Provance.
Along with Baker and the team of experts, Torrez has been looking for documents that show the membership, history and organization of the group. Provance claimed he destroyed all such evidence in a fit of anger after he and the group parted ways, but before he’d learned of an order to preserve the material for potential legal action.
“(I) shredded and burned all membership files. I shredded and burned anything regarding the structure of the New Mexico Civil Guard. I also poured bleach on the hard drive from my laptop and then burned it," said Provance in the interview.
After refusing to answer several more questions, Provance unclipped his microphone from his sportcoat and walked out. His attorney, Paul Kennedy, did not return a phone call from KOB 4.