The shots were fired as protesters tried to pull down a statue of Juan de Oñate, who began the Spanish colonization of New Mexico.
The Albuquerque Police Department and the FBI are investigating members of a right-wing militia who are accused of inciting violence at a protest in New Mexico that called for the removal of a statue of the state's founder, a tyrannical conquistador known for his cruelty, the department announced early Tuesday morning.
One man was shot at the protest and remains in critical but stable condition, according to the department, which said it is investigating whether the right-wing New Mexico Civil Guard, who showed up to the protest carrying military-style weapons and wearing camouflage gear, was behind the shooting.
"We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence," Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said in a statement posted to Twitter. "If this is true will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution"
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) called for an investigation of the right-wing militia group.
"This is not the first report of heavily armed civilian militias appearing at protests around New Mexico in recent weeks. These extremists cannot be allowed to silence peaceful protests or inflict violence," Heinrich tweeted early Tuesday morning.
The incident in New Mexico marks the latest instance of right-wing agitators disrupting peaceful protests calling for the end of systemic racism across the country.
Donald Trump and other Republicans have blamed the violence at the protests on antifa — a loosely organized movement of anti-fascist activists.
But multiple media outlets have combed through arrest reports from the protests and have not found any ties to antifa. But some of those arrested were found to have ties to right-wing movements seeking the next American Civil War. That includes a group of three right-wing agitators who were arrested in Nevada for allegedly trying to incite violence at a protest.
Video from Monday's protest in Albuquerque shows police arresting members of the militia and confiscating their weapons after the gunshots were fired.
The shots were fired as protesters tried to pull down a statue of Juan de Oñate, who served as the colonial governor of New Mexico in the 16th century. Oñate is infamous for his violence and cruelty. He was ultimately convicted on charges of excessive violence and was permanently banished from New Mexico after he killed hundreds of indigenous people in the state and ordered amputations of captives.
Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro pointed out that the armed right-wing militia members were arrested without incident, while unarmed Black Americans have been killed by police.
"One of these New Mexico right-wing militia members just shot a person," Castro tweeted. "Notice how calmly they're all being detained. Don't tell me George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks and Eric Garner — who did not harm anybody — couldn't be treated differently."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.