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Clash Over a Contentious Statue Ends With Man Shot

Self-described militia group apparently showed up to protect the statue from protesters
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2020 1:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – A man has been hospitalized in critical condition after being shot a number of times in the torso during a protest in New Mexico late Monday. The protesters were demanding the removal of a bronze statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate, described by the Washington Post as "a 16th-century despot who massacred indigenous people." Things apparently ratcheted up as they went at it with a pickax and chain and members of a self-described civilian militia group dubbed the New Mexico Civil Guard showed up to try to safeguard it. APD Chief Michael Geier said the department had received "reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence." CNN reports Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham went further in a Twitter statement that blasted the "heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a 'civil guard.'"

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Steven Ray Baca, 31, has been arrested and changed with aggravated battery in connection with the shooting of Scott Williams. Baca is a former city council candidate who the Albuquerque Journal reports referred to local officials as "complete wimps when it comes to fighting crime"; it's not clear if and how he's connected to the civil guard. The paper says video from the scene appears to show Baca advancing through the crowd and shoving a woman to the ground. The protesters allegedly then turned on him, with Baca allegedly using pepper spray on those coming at him. Protesters allegedly continued their pursuit, with an undercover detective who was present saying Baca was tackled and hit repeatedly with a longboard (akin to a skateboard) until shots were heard. Williams had allegedly been wielding the longboard at the time. (Read more New Mexico stories.)

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