Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Albuquerque District Attorney Files Complaint Against Facebook Over Releasing Information About The New Mexico Civil Guard | Local news

Second District Attorney Raúl Torrez takes Facebook in his battle against the New Mexico Civil Guard, which he believes is breaking the law by acting as a self-proclaimed military power in the state.

The Albuquerque-based prosecutor filed a petition Monday asking a judge in California’s Superior Court to compel the social media giant to comply with a subpoena from his office requesting information about accounts held by the right-wing militia group its members.

Torrez said militia members used Facebook to recruit, organize and direct members, telling them where to meet and how to prepare for protests.

The prosecutor told a press conference on Monday that the company had deleted pages related to the Civil Guard because the accounts violated Facebook’s own guidelines on dangerous people and organizations. However, he added that Facebook has refused to provide any information about who set up and controlled the accounts.

“Facebook is asking Congress and the American people to trust it to regulate extremist content on its platform, yet refuses to provide basic account information about an identified extremist group that has used the same platform to recruit its members and instruct to engage in unlawful activity, ”he wrote in a press release.

Torrez said he contradicts Facebook’s argument that the Stored Communication Act shields the company from producing the information and finds it “hard to believe that a trillion dollar technology company cannot get account information about a group that the company does because of itself Removed extremists from the platform ”. Activities.

“Either they have the records and are not releasing them,” Torrez wrote in his statement, “or they have permanently destroyed the records, which raises the question of how Facebook is trying to prevent members of this extremist group from opening new accounts in the future.”

Torrez said Monday that he offered the company’s chief technology officer the opportunity to sign an affidavit confirming that the company searched for the records and couldn’t find them, but Facebook declined, so it could enforce it requested by the courts.

The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center has joined Torrez’s office and petitioned the California Superior Court to get Facebook to release the record.

A Facebook spokesperson defended the company’s practices.

“We hold account information in response to a law enforcement request and will provide it in accordance with applicable law and our terms when we receive valid legal process,” he said. “When we retain data, we do so for a period of time that can be extended at the request of law enforcement agencies.”

The Bernalillo County District Attorney said he would use the information to prove his claims in a civil lawsuit he filed against Civil Guard police officers in protests in July 2020.

He filed the civil lawsuit after members of the New Mexico Civil Guard – which he estimates have between 150 and 200 members nationwide – armed and in military clothing at a protest in Albuquerque in June 2020 against the statue of Spanish conqueror Juan de Oñate had appeared where a man was shot and wounded.

“Numerous members of the [New Mexico Civil Guard] participated in the protest as a private vigilante or paramilitary unit, wearing appropriate camouflage clothing and carrying assault rifles and other military equipment, ”said Torrez in his complaint.

Paul Kennedy, the attorney defending the New Mexico Civil Guard against Torrez’s complaint, has filed a counterclaim accusing Torrez of violating his clients’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly by arresting them and taking their guns who seized the shooting without a warrant.

Kennedy did not respond to a message asking for comment.

Torrez said he hoped to take his case to California’s Superior Court sometimes in the spring.

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