If You’re Watching Portland, Watch This Courthouse In New Mexico, Too

| Educate!

Above photo: Demonstrators flee Monday after right-wing militia members fired shots into a crowd attempting to remove a statue of brutal conquistador Juan de Oñate. Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal.

The events in Portland understandably have raised serious concerns that the various white-nationalist militias, having infiltrated various police departments, might decide en masse to “help” the Feds “maintain order” in such a way as they are doing presently in Oregon. It is not a long step, after all, from badgeless Feds in unmarked rental vans to badgeless civilians in unmarked rental vans. As regards to this possibility, it’s important to keep an eye on one courthouse in New Mexico.

Back in June, when protestors assembled to remove a statue of a Spanish conquistador, a bunch of cospaly Rambos called the New Mexico Civil Guard showed up in opposition. (Eventually, in the middle of a scuffle, a guy named Steven Baca opened fire on the demonstrators.) Last week, Raul Torrez, the district attorney for Bernalillo County, sued the NMCG to stop the group from “usurping”—great word, by the way—the prerogatives of legitimate law-enforcement authorities. From CNN:

“One of the key principles in our democratic system is that only those recognized, trained and licensed by the government may engage in this kind of [law enforcement] activity,” Torrez said at a press conference announcing the civil action. In a 39-page civil complaint, Torrez accused the New Mexico Civil Guard of being a “vigilante” paramilitary outfit that engages in policing activities in violation of state law…”NMCG’s coordinated, armed, and uniformed presence at public events results in intimidation and creates a chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights,” the lawsuit alleges.The district attorney claimed the group, whose membership he alleged includes people associated with white supremacist and neo-Confederate ideology, has routinely used paramilitary tactics “at protests, demonstrations, and public gatherings throughout New Mexico, providing wholly unauthorized, heavily armed, and coordinated ‘protection’ from perceived threats.”

Naturally, the local cosplay Rambos responded in true, capitalized, semi-literate Drama Queenhood.

After the lawsuit was announced, the New Mexico Civil Guard posted a response on its Facebook page, calling it “laughable that they are trying to say we impersonate officers. The NMCG has always said we are the militia we are not police and do not enforce laws and we call the police officers when a crime is committed.” The militia insisted politics were behind the lawsuit, adding, “If they pass this through the courts they can go after any gun club, any group that they disagree with who slides (sic) any training or has any dissenting political opinion. PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!!”

STOP SHOUTING! WE CAN HEAR YOU IN MASSACHUSETTS BECAUSE OF CNN!

Further, Torrez charged that the NMCG did more than aggressively “defending” the statue. He charged that the group acted as agents provocateurs by its very presence.

In the civil lawsuit, the district attorney claims the militia’s actions at demonstrations may cause local citizens to incorrectly infer the armed group has police powers and creates additional problems for law enforcement officers trying to keep the peace. “By appearing armed and uniformed at such events, NMCG creates a risk that its members will be mistaken for authorized police or military personnel, confusing members of the public and complicating the efforts of law enforcement to respond to any unrest that arises at those events,” according to the lawsuit. “Law enforcement must also take into account the risk of triggering violence on NMCG’s part when determining whether and how to intervene in any disturbances that occur at public gatherings attended by the group.”

It should be noted that more than a few people have accused the Feds operating in Portland of roughly the same thing, if only by saying that the presence of militarized police has heightened the potential of violence there. Were I an unpopular president* running a phony law ’n order campaign from the musty attic of Richard Nixon’s memory, this is the kind of thing I might believe to be a great help. It’s going to take local officials like DA Torrez to stop the slide.

  • jho blho

    Ehh, I’m so glad I graduated and got the hell outta ABQ. The University of New Mexico is one of the few in the US that lets the CIA to recruit students and allows one of their spooks to teach classes. NM has a long history of embracing the military-industrial-congressional complex (it brings in more money to the state than any other industry) so when you play with fire, you risk getting burned… Confusion over who might be a fed agent and who is militia is intended!

  • lcotler

    While I agree with the sentiments and values underlying this report, why no mention of the violence that burned buildings and businesses? Who perpetrated those? Those who encourage Trump to send in the Federales blame the violence on the violent wing of the protestors. Who can clear this up…definitively?

  • dan

    I can’t say definitively; but more often than not it’s either Right-wing militias and/or undercover cops/agent provocateurs….funny how hardly anyone mentions our trigger-happy violent society and the easy access to guns on the streets