LAS CRUCES SUN-NEWS
LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico Civil Guard lost its Facebook account Wednesday after the social media company said it took sweeping action against hundreds of pages, groups, ads and Instagram accounts “tied to offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon.”
The NMCG has staged an armed presence, with its members often donning military fatigues, at political demonstrations around the state in 2020, including several denouncing police violence and public statues depicting Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate.
In June, the group appeared at a vigil in Las Cruces, stating they had assigned themselves to guard the vigil against out-of-town provocateurs. Also present were armed men identifying themselves as members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” a loosely organized anti-government movement.
Later in the month, NMCG members were present at a June 15 protest in Albuquerque when Steven Ray Baca – a counterprotester who is not part of their group – was captured on video assaulting protesters, and then shooting and critically wounding a man after protesters chased Baca away.
Civil Guard members at the scene were arrested and disarmed by Albuquerque police, but not charged in the incident. However, in July, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez filed suit in district court seeking an injunction preventing NMCG from organizing and operating as an “unauthorized” armed force in New Mexico.
On Thursday, 10 NMCG members named in the lawsuit filed a counterclaim against Torrez, seeking unspecified damages and legal costs while claiming their arrests were unlawful and that their weapons, seized when they were arrested, still have not been returned to them.
While the Facebook crackdown targeted hundreds of accounts and groups associated with the right-wing conspiracist movement known as QAnon, it also banned those associated with a variety of militia organizations, as well as anarchist and anti-fascist groups. Facebook reported it removed 980 groups, 520 Pages and 160 ads from Facebook Wednesday, and restricted more than 1,400 Instagram hashtags.
“While we will allow people to post content that supports these movements and groups, so long as they do not otherwise violate our content policies, we will restrict their ability to organize on our platform,” the company said in a statement.
The NMCG had issued several “musters” via Facebook, calling for volunteers and announcements about training events in several New Mexico counties.
It also posted screenshots of several Las Cruces residents in a June post, claiming they were “local antifa supporters,” with a warning to “watch your six, y’all,” which some of the residents took as a threat.
At the time, NMCG founder and then-spokesman Bryce Provance told the Las Cruces Sun-News the message was intended as a warning to militia members about potentially dangerous individuals.