Members of an armed civilian group known as the New Mexico Civil Guard were detained by police on Monday after a protester who reportedly tried to take down a controversial statue was shot.
As the Albuquerque Journal reported, a man was shot in Old Town during a protest of the "La Jornada" sculpture in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The statue honors conquistador Juan de Oñate, and protesters had called for it to be taken down. The New Mexico Civil Guard, a civilian group that said it formed to protect people and property during protests that have taken place in the state following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, was present at the demonstration on Monday.
The report noted that the shooting took place during a clash between protesters trying to take down the sculpture and five or six "heavily armed" members of the civilian group. The man who was shot was taken to a nearby hospital, and his condition was not known.
Reporters on the scene said that police detained and arrested some members of the New Mexico Civil Guard.After the shooting, police in riot gear arrived and made an announcement for people on top of a nearby roof to come down. Some demonstrators began to leave, and some urged others who stayed to remain peaceful and go home, the report noted.
ABC News 7 had previously reported on the New Mexico Civil Guard, a group made up at least in part of former military and law enforcement members. O'Rion Petty, the group's captain, had led the group to other demonstrations, including a vigil for Floyd. He told the news outlet that the members were not opposed to the protesters but said they wanted to protect property.
"We're not against the protesters or whatever you want to call them," said Petty, who is the group's captain. "We're not there to intimidate the protesters or anything like that. We're not with antifa. We're there because of everything that's going on (around the country) and we're not going to watch our community be destroyed, if it comes to that."
As in New Mexico, protesters across the country have called for statues honoring those with controversial or racially charged histories to be taken down. Demonstrators have called for statues of Confederate leaders to be removed in the south, and in other cities, they have called for the removal of statues of Christopher Columbus.
Police have not released details on which members of the New Mexico Civil Guard may have been arrested or the condition of the man who was shot.