(08/18/20) EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article said Steven Baca had a "preliminary trial" on Friday, when the correct term is "preliminary hearing." This article has been updated to reflect this.
During Steven Baca’s preliminary hearing on Friday, an armed man reportedly identifying himself as a Three Percenter — a national far-right militia with a New Mexico chapter — showed up at the home of a witness in the case. Baca is being charged with two counts of aggravated battery, battery and unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon for his actions at a protest on June 15, during which Baca was seen attacking multiple women before shooting and injuring protester Scott Williams.
Shortly after the witness testified, the man “showed up at the witness’ home with a handgun, asking for them by name and if they were ‘antifa’,” according to activist and UNM American Studies faculty member Nick Estes, who is in contact with the witness and reviewed a video of the incident, which has not yet been made public.
According to Estes, the man — reportedly identifying himself as Daniel — “said he wouldn’t be the last person to show up at their home armed; there would be others, he promised.”
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office put out a press release on Monday asking for assistance from the public in identifying the man, calling him a witness tampering suspect.
Estes pointed out on Twitter that this incident fits into a local pattern of domestic terror from the right.
Earlier this year, the FBI investigated a racist attack that included a threat of lynching made against Charles Becknell Jr., the director of the Africana Studies program at UNM. At a University town hall held in May in response to the threats, Kathy Powers, a political science professor and president of the Black Faculty Alliance, spoke about the long history of racist threats targeting Black faculty members.
“It’s not unusual, unfortunately, for faculty to be targeted for their very right to express their academic freedom … especially at this University,” Powers said. “Threats of lynchings and murder — there are faculty who have found nooses on their cars — this is throughout the history of UNM.”
Estes himself has also been on the receiving end of right-wing threats. On July 31, hours before a protest organized by the Red Nation took place downtown, the New Mexico Civil Guard — a militia founded by a neo-Confederate — targeted Estes and Melanie Yazzie, both of whom are Indigenous activists and UNM professors, on Facebook.
The militia wrote on Facebook that they would be marching through the campus “to protest the Communist thug miss Yazzie who works there” before going to Estes’ and Yazzie’s home “to protest the illegal use of funds appropriated illegally by them for terrorist activities.”
Attached to the post was a Google Maps screenshot showing the block where the pair lives. The militia never showed, though they were later sighted at Filling Philly’s during two separate protests that weekend and on one occasion pointed guns at protesters walking by the shop.
A study published earlier this summer found that right-wing extremists have killed 329 people in the last 25 years, while only one death in the same time period has been linked to anti-fascists, where the person who died was the attacker.
Bella Davis is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @bladvs