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New Mexico Governor Condemns Armed Vigilantes After Man Gets Shot During Statue Protest In Albuquerque

New Mexico Governor Condemns Armed Vigilantes After Man Gets Shot During Statue Protest In Albuquerque
Robert Alexander / Getty Images; @meganrabundis / Twitter

Protests in New Mexico have resulted in a protester being shot by a counter protester. The incident has left the state reeling from the attack.

It began Monday night at a protest to remove the statue of Juan de Oñate, a Spanish conquistador and former governor of Colonial New Mexico.

Oñate was responsible for the Acoma Massacre where 500 Acoma men were killed along with 300 women and children. Most of the Acoma who survived the attack were sentenced to 20 years of slavery and 24 suffered amputations of their hands and/or feet.

The Acoma Massacre was in response to the deaths of 12 Spanish soldiers who attacked an Acoma village, destroyed homes, stole food and other items and raped a woman.

Oñate's genocidal past makes him a controversial historical figure. Protesters sought to bring the statue down as a result.

However, an agitator picked a fight with the crowd and ended up shooting a man trying to stop him.

The calls to tear down statues of Oñate in New Mexico mirror calls to pull down Confederate statues and monuments to Christopher Columbus—who along with his men raped, enslaved, tortured, maimed and murdered 7-10 million Indigenous men, women and children of the Caribbean and Central American coast. The protester say such figures belong in history books and not glorified with public monuments or national holidays.

However, the demonstration on Monday night was interrupted.

In the videos above, a man in a blue shirt appears to knock down a protester and pick a fight with the crowd. The crowd in turn, tries to chase him off.

The confrontation turns deadly when the man in the blue shirt shoots one of the protesters. Afterward, a group of armed militia men surround the shooter and keep the crowd away from him.

Police eventually stepped in and arrested the shooter and militia members identified as part of the New Mexico Civil Guard.

The shooter was quickly identified on social media as Stephen Baca, a far-right, former candidate for Albuquerque's city council. His identity was later verified.

Baca ran on a message of law and order, citing a need to stop "people just committing crimes whenever they want."

The militia group that protected him have been identified as the New Mexico Civil Guard (NMCG). They have denied that Baca is a member, but many of the witnesses and protesters have linked the two.

The NMCG were said to be harassing and intimidating protesters all night at the event, and were arrested alongside Baca after the shooting.

They are symptomatic of the rise of far right, armed militias exacerbating the tensions at these protests.

The man who was shot was taken to the hospital and is stable, though his condition is critical. Baca is currently detained under suspicion of aggravated battery.

All of this has come to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's attention as she released a statement on the matter. Grisham was not willing to take the acts of the armed militia lightly.

She called out the NMCG, and criticized their actions in stoking flames of violence.

Other officials representing the state have expressed their concerns as well.

Albuquerque Mayor, Tim Keller has announced that the statue would be removed until "the appropriate civic institutions" decided what to do with it.