Man shot at US colonial statue protest

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A man was shot Monday as a heavily armed militia group attempted to defend a statue from US protestors in New Mexico, officials and media reports said.

Monuments linked to colonialism and slavery are being toppled and removed globally as worldwide anti-racism protests continue after the death in US police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

Albuquerque city protesters were demanding the removal of a statue of the state’s 16th-century governor, Spanish conquistador Juan de Onate, according to local media.

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The victim is believed to be in a critical but stable condition, police said.

Police were investigating reports “about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence,” city police chief Michael Geier said in a Twitter statement.

“If this is true will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution,” he said.

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Images in US media showed police apprehending a number of men, some dressed in camouflage gear with guns.

“The heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a ‘civil guard’, were there for one reason: To menace protesters, to present an unsanctioned show of unregulated force,” said New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement posted on Twitter.

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“Let me (be) clear: There is absolutely no space in New Mexico for any violent would-be ‘militia’ seeking to terrorize New Mexicans,” she added.

Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller said on Twitter that the statue had been temporarily removed to contain the risk to public safety.

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