Group says mission to defend citizens and their property


June 7, 2020

Courtesy photo: Galindo Karyna

The group calling itself the New Mexico Civil Guard of Curry County is led by Capt. O'Rion Petty, right.

CLOVIS - They call themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard for Curry County.

Their stated mission: Defend citizens and their private property.

"We will not allow businesses in our community to be put through the pain we've seen nationwide," their Facebook page reads.

"The protests are necessary, we fully understand that, and to an extent the violence is necessary, but we will not allow that violence to be directed at our citizens and their property."

The group, headed up locally by painter O'Rion Petty, made itself known publicly for the first time Wednesday night on the perimeter of a "Clovis Vigil for George Floyd" gathering in Greene Acres Park.

Photos on social media showed eight men, many of them heavily armed with what appear to be bullet-proof vests.

But Petty said he wants to be clear the group is here to protect peaceful people and property, not to start anything.

He said they planned to be around throughout the weekend, though the Floyd protests and vigils in Clovis were peaceful heading into Saturday night with no reported incidents of violence.

"We're not against the protesters or whatever you want to call them," said Petty, who is the group's captain. "We're not there to intimidate the protesters or anything like that. We're not with antifa. We're there because of everything that's going on (around the country) and we're not going to watch our community be destroyed, if it comes to that."

Bryce Provance, one of the New Mexico Civil Guard leaders who lives in Albuquerque, said many members across the state are retired military and/or law enforcement personnel who are highly trained "in CPR and being prepared, tanning food, and arms training as well."

He also made it clear the NM Civil Guard is not associated with antifa, the anti-fascist protesters President Trump has blamed for inciting violence at vigils and rallies across the nation following Floyd's death in police custody late last month.

"We are not antifa ... They are actively targeting our members because we don't agree with the violence and thuggish tactics they are using," Provance said. "We're not for any organization that uses violence to silence anybody with dissenting opinions."

Kyle Brewer, who owns S&S Grocery and Hilltop Bottle Shop in Hilltop Plaza, said he was approached by the NM Civil Guard soon after organizers began planning the weekend protests and vigils.

Brewer said Petty "got in contact with me. He told me what they were about."

Brewer said the group "educated a lot of people" about their purpose on Wednesday night.

"What was cool was people talking to them and getting to know what they're about," Brewer said.

Brewer said he did not ask for the Civil Guard's presence, but "I didn't have a problem with them showing up" because he was concerned protests in the community could lead to violence.

"I definitely feel that concern. You just see what's going on around the rest of country.

"And I'm not the only one concerned. My phone is blowing up with people concerned. It doesn't hurt to be prepared. I think businesses have been through enough (with the COVID-19 pandemic) without having to worry about this crap."

Petty said the local chapter of the NM Civil Guard has only been active a few weeks, but he hopes it will grow and expand into neighboring counties, especially Roosevelt.

Clovis Mayor Mike Morris said city police and New Mexico State Police have been in contact with the NM Civil Guard and Petty said his group is "following guidelines given to us by police."

Petty said police are "completely fine with us being around. They wanted to make sure we don't look like law enforcement or military and so we're staying in plain clothes for this."

As for the use of weapons in protecting private property, Petty said the Civil Guard "will always go the non-lethal option when it's available.

"We do carry things like pepper spray ... but if we feel like someone's life is in imminent danger or our lives are in imminent danger, at that point we would have to go ahead and use lethal force if necessary."

But Petty said "someone running at us" or burning a building would not be met with gunfire."


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