A man was shot dead on Monday when a heavily armed militia group tried to defend a statue against US protesters in New Mexico.
Colonialism and slavery monuments are toppled and removed worldwide as global protests against racism continue after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in US police custody.
According to local media, protesters from the city of Albuquerque demanded the removal of a statue of the 16th century governor, the Spanish conqueror Juan de Onate.
When they tried to tear down the sculpture, a small group of right-wing militia members tried to protect it and clashes occurred, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The victim is said to be in a critical but stable condition, the police said.
Police investigated reports "about vigilante groups that may trigger this violence," city police chief Michael Geier said in a Twitter statement.
"If this is the case, they will be held fully accountable for the law, including the designation and persecution of hate groups by the federal government," he said.
Images in U.S. media showed the police arresting a number of men, some of whom were dressed in camouflage clothing with weapons.
"The heavily armed people who displayed themselves at the protest and called themselves" civil guards "were there for one reason: to threaten demonstrators to present an unauthorized show of unregulated violence," said the governor of New Mexico , Michelle Lujan Grisham, posted in a statement on Twitter.
"Let me be clear: in New Mexico there is absolutely no place for violent" militias "to terrorize New Mexicans," she added.
The Mayor of Albuquerque, Tim Keller, said on Twitter that the statue had been temporarily removed to curb public security risk.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)