Joe Sutton and Hollie Silverman, CNN, June 16, 2020
Vigilantes might have started the violence that led to a shooting in New Mexico during a demonstration on Monday authorities said, and the governor is vowing to hold the “instigators” fully accountable.
One man was hospitalized in critical condition and another man charged with aggravated battery, Albuquerque police said.
The shooting happened during a protest in the city’s Old Town calling for the removal of a sculpture of a Spanish conquistador, officials said.
“I am horrified and disgusted beyond words,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement on Twitter condemning the “heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a ‘civil guard.'”
“There is absolutely no space in New Mexico for any violent would-be ‘militia’ seeking to terrorize New Mexicans; and there is no space for violence of any kind on our streets and in our communities,” her statement said.
“The instigators this evening will be rooted out, they will be investigated, and they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Protests against police brutality in the US remained mostly peaceful Monday night, though demonstrations in two other states ended in chaos.
Police in Portland, Oregon, declared a civil disturbance and closed part of downtown, they said, after some protesters lit a fire, looted a store and injured an officer with a large rock.
In Tennessee, troopers detained 21 protesters who refused to vacate Capitol grounds, they said.
The man who was shot at the Albuquerque demonstration was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital and is in critical but stable condition, authorities said.
Police arrested Stephen Ray Baca, 31, in connection with the shooting, according to a news release from Albuquerque police. Baca is facing charges of aggravated battery.
Social media video from the scene shows a fight breaking out before shots can be heard. Police used chemical irritants and flash bangs to protect officers at the scene near the Albuquerque National History Museum, a news release from the police department said.
“We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence. If this is true, we will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution,” Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said in a news release.