Man attacked, then shoots protesters
What is being reported by mainstream media as an attack on protesters appears to be a case of self-defense.
Late Monday, reports of a shooting at a Black Lives Matter inspired protest began to circulate, and by Tuesday CNN was reporting the events like this:
“A confrontation broke out between demonstrators and a group of armed militia 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 several gunshots could be heard down the street and people started yelling that someone had been shot.”
Other media have since reported the events similarly to the way CNN covered it. However, the Albuquerque Police report tells a different story:
“At approximately 7:15 pm the protest/demonstration started to escalate, protesters started to damage and attempt to remove the Don Juan de Onate statue located in front of the Natural History Museum.”
This has been a familiar scene across America since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. However, in this case, counter-protesters showed up to defend the monument. The protesters sympathetic to Black Lives Matter became hostile to one of the counter-protesters according to the police report:
“Cell phone video footage captured by a bystander in the area recorded a male subject wearing a blue-colored shirt—later identified as Steven Baca Jr.—in what appears to be a manner in which to protect the statue from the protesters. Steven was similarly recorded leaving the area of the statue toward the street interacting with the crowd.”
An undercover police detective was in a position to view the crowd pursuing Baca as he attempted to move away from the crowd. At some point, Baca may have used pepper spray to create more distance. Video of the incident shows the group pursuing Baca shouting “cop” and “it’s a cop” as they threw him to the ground.
The police report states that once Baca was on the ground, the crowd began “physically striking Steven’s body with their hands and legs. Steven was struck by a male individual with what appears to be a green in color longboard. Steven continues to move away from his attackers while protecting his head and body with his hands. Cellphone footage recorded by a bystander clearly depicts Steven being struck by a longboard followed by being tackled to the ground by the longboard’s possessor.”
As the struggle continued, a second person wearing a hood began swinging a longboard at Baca’s head and shoulders, the report says.
“At this time a series of gunshots are heard and the longboard drops to the ground.” Baca, the report states, is seen holding a “black semi-automatic handgun” after shots were fired. Several shots hit the person in the torso who had been striking Baca with the longboard.
Baca was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery, and the victim of the shooting is in critical condition according to multiple news accounts.
The Democratic Gov. of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, lashed out at Baca and those who were attempting to defend the statue:
“To menace the people of New Mexico with weaponry – with an implicit threat of violence – is on its face unacceptable; that violence did indeed occur is unspeakable.”
Albuquerque Mayor, Democrat Tim Keller, said it is now an “urgent matter of public safety” that the statue be removed.
PHOTO: Adria Malcolm for The New York Times
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