Indianz.Com > News > Family of activist Jacob Johns releases statement about shooting
Jacob Johns
Jacob Johns is seen in a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is receiving treatment following a shooting on September 28, 2023. Family photo
Family of activist Jacob Johns releases statement about deadly shooting
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The family of Jacob Johns, the activist and artist who was shot during a peaceful Native gathering in New Mexico, released a statement about the incident that has attracted worldwide attention.

Johns was shot in the chest while trying to protect people who were attending and speaking at the event in Española on September 28. His family said the attack highlighted the ongoing violence that Native peoples have faced on their own lands for centuries.

“For generations, Indigenous Peoples have faced harm, death, and systemic oppression,” the statement shared by The Red Nation read. “Last week’s premeditated shooting is just another historical event in a series of systemic injustices in Indigenous history.”

The family also released photos showing him and his mother in the hospital where he is being treated for his injuries. He has undergone at least one surgery, according to a friend who has set up one online fundraiser, but newer information indicates a long road to recovery.

“After the local hospital was unable to provide the level of care needed, Jacob was flown to a hospital in Albuquerque, where he remains in stable, but critical, condition,” a second online fundraiser reads.

Jacob Johns
Jacob Johns is seen in a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is receiving treatment following a shooting on September 28, 2023. Family photo

In the statement, the family called for the continued detainment of Ryan David Martinez, 23, the man accused of the shooting. The defendant is currently being held in the Rio Arriba County Detention Center on attempted murder and aggravated assault charges.

According to the family, Martinez “poses a significant risk to our community and all communities.”

The family is also demanding federal hate crime charges be laid against Martinez. New Mexico happens to be location of the first case ever prosecuted under Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal statute. The victim also was a Native person.

“This was a racially and culturally motivated hate crime and must be treated as such,” the Johns family statement reads.

The statement further calls on officials in Rio Arriba County to drop plans to reinstall a monument to Juan de Oñate, a colonial figure reviled for his acts of violence against Native people in the 1500s and 1600s. Martinez had posted about the controversial statue on social media in the days leading up to the attack.

But so far, the county officials who surprised the public by reviving the monument have not accepted responsibility for creating the conditions the preceded the shooting. They also have not outright condemned the attack — instead referring to it as a “tragic event” without mentioning the victim.

The mayor of Española, who promoted the statue installation on his official social media, also remained silent about Johns in his statement about the shooting. He has not commented publicly about the presence of Martinez, whose home is more than 90 minutes from the monument site, in the community either.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 17.2 percent of Rio Arriba County residents self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native as of 2020. Most live in Pueblo communities near Española — Ohkay Owingeh and Santa Clara — but there is also a sizable population on the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

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