- Steven Ray Baca, a former candidate for Albuquerque’s city council, was arrested Tuesday morning after witnesses he shot an anti-racist protester the night before, police said.
- Protesters had been trying to pull down a statue of Juan de Oñate, a notoriously cruel Spanish conquistador, when shots rang out.
- The victim, Scott Williams, was shot several times in the torso and is in critical but stable condition, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
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Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrested a right-wing former candidate for city council on Tuesday and accused him of shooting and critically wounding an anti-racist protester the night before, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Steven Ray Baca, 31, was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after allegedly shooting one of dozens of protesters who had gathered around a statue of Juan de Oñate, a notoriously cruel Spanish conquistador, that was set to be replaced later this year.
The Oñate statue, outside the Albuquerque Museum in Old Town, was being guarded by members of a volunteer militia, which calls itself the New Mexico Civil Guard. The group has been a regular and heavily armed sight at recent Black Lives Matter protests, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
“For weeks our community has been peacefully protesting against racism,” Mayor Tim Keller said at a press conference on Tuesday, announcing the statue’s immediate removal. “This kind of violence has no place in Albuquerque. Our hearts go out to the victim and his family.”
The mayor said that Baca also violently threw a woman to the ground after “agitating” at the protest, as seen in video posted by those at the scene.
—Chad Loder (@chadloder) June 16, 2020
The shooting came soon after, as some in attendance tried to pull down the statue. A police report states that the attack occurred after Baca got in a scuffle with protesters.
—Megan Abundis (@meganrabundis) June 16, 2020
Albuquerque police arrested Baca on Tuesday morning.
On Twitter, Baca, who ran for city council in 2019, identifies himself as a “Conservative-Libertarian millennial who is here to help cure the RC (Ruling-Class) Virus.” He follows a number of right-wing politicians, such as President Donald Trump and Senator Rand Paul, and at least one far-right conspiracy theory account that promotes “QAnon.”
As The New York Times noted, Oñate was infamous for cruelty, “even by the standards of his time,” with Spanish authorities eventually barring him from the territory of New Mexico. Loathed by the large indigenous community, another statue of Oñate was removed Monday in the northern part of the state.
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