An Indigenous justice activist, Jacob Johns, is in recovery after being shot during a protest against the reinstallation of a statue honoring a Spanish conquistador in New Mexico. The alleged shooter, wearing a hat with the slogan “Make America Great Again,” faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault.
Opposing a Statue
Jacob Johns, a climate activist, artist, musician, and father, was among the demonstrators in Española, New Mexico, opposing the return of a statue of Juan de Oñate, a Spanish conquistador with a dark history.
A Spanish Conquistador
Juan de Oñate, the figure at the center of this controversy, was a Spanish conquistador who played a significant role in the colonization of what is now New Mexico. However, his legacy is marred by a brutal massacre of Indigenous people in 1599, which has left a lasting scar on the region’s history.
A Larger Debate
The demonstration in Española was part of a broader movement calling for the removal or reevaluation of statues and monuments linked to historical figures involved in atrocities or controversial actions.
The debate over whether to keep such statues has become a focal point of discussions about America’s history and its treatment of Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities.
With a Smirk
The suspected shooter, 23-year-old Ryan Martinez, was arrested and exhibited a disturbing attitude during interviews with investigators.
According to Martinez’s arrest affidavit, “Ryan, with a smirk on his face, asked if someone who attempted a murder would be allowed to walk out.”
How It Started
The violence unfolded when a confrontation erupted near the Rio Arriba county annex building, where officials postponed plans to re-erect the Oñate statue and protestors began to celebrate.
Jumping a Barrier
A cellphone video captured the moment when a fight broke out near the celebrators. Martinez jumped over a barrier and attempted to grab another man.
After jumping over the barrier two men began grappling with Martinez before he jumped back over the barrier. Once on the otherside of the barrier, he pulled out a pistol and fired a shot, injuring Jacob Johns, before fleeing the scene.
A Sobering Scream
One eyewitness at the scene said moments after the incident, women could be heard screaming, “Where are the children? Are my children alright?” No children were injured and the victim of the shooting will likely make a full recovery.
Catching the Spotlight
The incident gained attention because of Martinez’s “Make America Great Again” hat and his social media profile, which contained divisive political statements.
A Similar Case
This incident was not the first of its kind. In June 2020, during a rally advocating for the removal of the Oñate statue, another shooting occurred when Steven Baca shot Scott Williams. Baca faced charges of aggravated battery with great bodily harm but ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
The aftermath of the shooting has seen an outpouring of support for Jacob Johns. A GoFundMe campaign was established to assist with his medical bills and support his family during his recovery. As of now, the campaign has raised over $120,000, reflecting the community’s solidarity with the victim.
In response to this event, many people felt free to voice their disgust with Martinez’s actions and some have also called out the people for telling them to let Martinez go in the video.
15 Years Minimum
One social media user said, “There is 100% no reason to shoot in that situation. He’s behind a barrier. I highly doubt they would have chased him with his gun drawn. Give that idiot 15 years minimum.”
A second user commented on bystanders’ involvement stating, “Shouldn’t have let him go… never listen to useless bystanders barking orders.”
The Remainder of Your Life
A third user simple said, “If you can fire a gun like that without thinking about it at another person and its not self defense, you deserve to be locked up for the remainder of your life.
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