District court judge rules to restrict New Mexico Civil Guard

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A district court judge ruled the New Mexico Civil Guard broke the law with their actions during massive protests in 2020 and must pay a fine.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Elaine Lujan’s ruling specifies the Civil Guard can no longer publicly organize and operate as a military unit. The group must also pay $8,340 to District Attorney Raúl Torrez’s office for the legal fees involved in a fight over getting court documents.

“The overarching message today is that in the state of New Mexico there is no right, fundamentally, to establish your own paramilitary unit or police unit without authorization from either the New Mexico constitution or the statutory framework. This is clearly a victory for the rule of law,” the district attorney said.

The district attorney worked on the case with Albuquerque attorney Mark Baker and a Georgetown University legal team focused on fighting the rise of private militias.

In July 2020, the district attorney filed the initial lawsuit against the New Mexico Civil Guard after massive protests broke out.

Members of the self-declared New Mexico Civil Guard militia showed up to protests dressed in military attire and armed with rifles, claiming they were there to keep the peace. At one of those protests, a person was shot as protesters clashed over the Juan de Oñate statue in Old Town Albuquerque.

The ruling isn’t just for the Civil Guard, as it’s anticipated the ruling could be applied to other groups to come.

“As individuals, they can be in public. As individuals, they can bear their arms. What they cannot do is engage in a coordinated effort to present a show of force in public that would threaten and intimidate anyone in the public,” the district attorney stated.

In a deposition earlier this year, one of the New Mexico Civil Guard founders admitted to destroying evidence and refused to answer basic questions.