Man shot as protesters in New Mexico try to tear down statue

National News

Protesters attach a chain to a statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate in Albuquerque, N.M., Monday, June 15, 2020. One man was shot during an exchange between protesters and armed members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a civilian group trying to protect the monument. (Anthony Jackson/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man was shot Monday night as protesters in New Mexico’s largest city tried to tear down a bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador outside the Albuquerque Museum.

The man was taken to a hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition late Monday, said Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos.

A confrontation broke out between protesters and a group of armed men who were trying to protect the statue of Juan de Oñate before protesters wrapped a chain around the statue and began tugging on it while chanting, “Tear it down.” One protester repeatedly swung a pickax at the base of the statue.

Moments later a few gunshots could be heard down the street and people started yelling that someone had been shot.

Gallegos said officers used tear gas and flash bangs to protect officers and detain those involved in the shooting. He said they were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning as police worked to secure the scene. Gallegos said detectives were investigating with the help of the FBI.

Albuquerque police detain members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, an armed civilian group, following the shooting of a man during a protest over a statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate on Monday, June 15, 2020, in Albuquerque, N.M. A confrontation erupted between protesters and a group of armed men who were trying to protect the statue before protesters wrapped a chain around it and began tugging on it while chanting: “Tear it down.” One protester repeatedly swung a pickax at the base of the statue. Moments later a few gunshots could be heard down the street and people started yelling that someone had been shot. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

“The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us. Our hearts go out to the victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight.”

The violence came just hours after activists in northern New Mexico celebrated the removal of another likeness of Oñate that was on display at a cultural center in Alcalde. Rio Arriba County officials removed it to safeguard it from possible damage and to avoid civil unrest.

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