After a bizarre deposition hearing of self-proclaimed New Mexico Civil Guard founder Bryce Spangler Provance, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez is seeking a contempt of court order against the organization for destroying evidence related to the organization. New Mexico Civil Guard has been labeled as an extremist militia group, although Provance labeled the group a "gentlemen's club" and says he burned and poured bleach on his laptop which contained records of the group's membership. Provance is also a convicted felon.
During a deposition on April 7, Provance, invoked his “right as a free man under the Constitution” when asked to identify himself. He also brought several 'personal' drawings to the hearing, which appeared to have been drawn on a paper bag. Provance shared the drawings which were illustrations that he created featuring explicit sexual content intended for "anyone," a burning devil and portions of the Declaration of Independence. Provance also included the cover of a book, 'Behold a Pale Horse' by William Cooper, which has long been a favorite of militia movements and QAnon followers.
In November of last year, Torrez filed a complaint against Facebook in his battle against the New Mexico Civil Guard, which he said broke the law by acting as a self-appointed military force in the state. Torrez said militia members used Facebook to recruit, organize and direct members in addition to telling them where to meet and how to prepare themselves ahead of protests.
He filed the civil action after members of the New Mexico Civil Guard—which he estimates has 150 to 200 members statewide—appeared armed and dressed in military gear at a June 2020 protest in Old Town regarding the statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate. About eight members of the guard showed up at the protest, in which a man was injured after shots were fired into the crowd by the Civil Guard.
“Numerous members of the attended the protest as a private vigilante or paramilitary unit wearing matching camouflage attire and sporting assault rifles and other military-style gear,” Torrez said in his complaint.
The NM Civil Guard filed its own lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque, claiming the city was aware the Civil Guard was going to be there that night and positioned officers near the protest waiting until a Civil Guard member “committed a crime and planned to then arrest them.”
Facebook says it took down pages associated with the Civil Guard because the accounts violated Facebook’s own policies regarding dangerous individuals and organizations. Torrez said that his office has come to a resolution with Facebook on the issue after the company did a deep dive and found it no longer had the information.
Torrez says that now the Facebook issue has been resolved, he will try to work with Congress to draft legislation to lay out guidelines for social media companies to retain information on groups that are identified as extremist and dangerous.
Paul Kennedy is the defense attorney for the Civil Guard.
Click here to watch Provance's full deposition.
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