Statue Protest Results In Open Fire Injuring Man In New Mexico

By Sherah Janay Ndjongo

September 28, 2023

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Getty Images

A man is now in police custody following a shooting incident during a protest surrounding a contentious statue in Española, New Mexico.

The incident occurred outside the Rio Arriba County Clerk's Office during an event intended to rededicate a statue of Juan de Oñate, a historical figure with a controversial legacy. The altercation escalated into gunfire, resulting in one person being hospitalized in stable condition. The extent of the victim's injuries remains unclear.

The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Ryan Martinez, was detained by the New Mexico State Police. The motive behind the shooting remains unknown, and no charges have been filed at this point.

The rededication ceremony was postponed indefinitely in the interest of public safety, though some individuals still gathered outside the venue despite the cancellation. Witnesses reported that the conflict leading to the shooting involved a counter-protester charging at those who had originally assembled to celebrate the postponement.

The statue of Oñate had been removed from another location in the county in 2020. This incident recalls a similar shooting during a protest over an Oñate statue in Albuquerque's Old Town in 2020, highlighting the ongoing controversy surrounding such monuments. Oñate's statues have faced calls for removal due to the violent history associated with colonialism in New Mexico.

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