This is a real switch.. and not a good one either!!
A FORMER Albuquerque City Council candidate who ran on a tough-on-crime platform shot a protester at an anti-police brutality demonstration on Monday and was arrested alongside members of a right-wing militia group. The shooting is an extreme example of a trend that has played out across the country as armed vigilantes pledging to protect property have shown up at protests — in many cases with encouragement or even explicit collaboration from law enforcement.
The shooter, Steven Ray Baca, had been intimidating protesters planning to topple a statue of the murderous Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate outside the Albuquerque Museum. He was joined in this quest by members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a militia group that emerged in the wake of coronavirus-related shutdowns.
Baca, who was recently named a board member of the Albuquerque Tea Party, claims to have family in law enforcement and has led pro-police activism in the past. Amid protests over a police killing in 2014, he created a Facebook page in support of Albuquerque officers and told a reporter that he had an uncle with the department. A profile of Baca from his 2019 run for city council notes that he is the son of a former Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy. In a tweet, the sheriff’s office said, “His father worked for the agency nearly twenty years ago, but was no longer an employee of BCSO as of 2001.” But Baca behaved as if his father still wielded influence, according to Nicholas Soto, a protester who witnessed the shooting. After firing his weapon, Soto said, Baca asked law enforcement to call his dad, whom he said was with the sheriff’s office.
Nearly 200 appearances by vigilantes and far-right extremists have been counted at protests over the past few weeks.
Before Baca opened fire, protesters were pulling a chain looped around Oñate’s neck, preparing to tear down a sculpture viewed as a symbol of genocide and racism. Members of the New Mexico Civil Guard stood watch carrying assault weapons, ostensibly to protect the monument. Suddenly, the cheers gave way to shouts. Baca threw a woman to the ground, then strode away from the crowd. When protesters chased after him, a scuffle broke out. “He’s going to fucking kill you!” a bystander screamed before four gunshots pierced the air. Several of the bullets hit protester Scott Williams in the torso.
With Williams bleeding in the street, the New Mexico Civil Guard members formed a protective circle around Baca, their weapons ready. When law enforcement arrived, officers created a second ring around the militia, according to a video provided by another witness. After detaining the shooter and several militia members, officers fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at the distraught crowd.
“The police handled the New Mexico Civil Guard and the gentleman very gingerly, with care, to make sure they didn’t get injured, while they were on the opposite side trying to target Black and Indigenous people,” said Soto. Williams, the victim, was in critical but stable condition as of Wednesday night, according to the local news station KRQE… more