Many readers have asked what’s become of seven violent vandals who destroyed the Soldiers Monument on the Plaza.

Countless residents of Santa Fe were hurt and troubled when a mob yanked down the 152-year-old obelisk. They want to know how these criminals are atoning, being that District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies agreed to deals that spared them from open court proceedings and jail time.

Carmack-Altwies said they would face a different sort of judicial ordeal under the banner of restorative justice.

The district attorney misled the public in several ways, especially by implying people would be able to follow the case.

This is what Carmack-Altwies wrote three months ago while defending her deal-making: “The defendants are court-ordered to participate in this rigorous program and must face the consequences of their actions on a community stage.”

Whatever stage they’re supposedly on must have a steel curtain around it. The community at large isn’t privy to this brand of restorative justice. Only a few people handpicked by a private mediator know what the Scofflaw Seven have to say for themselves.

Here’s a capsule of the series of questions I sent to Carmack-Altwies and her responses, if any:

  • What has each defendant done so far under the restorative justice program? — No answer.
  • Have written statements in which the defendants must admit their role in the crimes been completed? If so, will the public have access to these statements? — No answer.
  • Has restitution been ordered? If so, how much, and has it been paid? — No answer.
  • You said each defendant would pay a cost of the restorative justice program itself. Has this occurred? If so, how much is each paying? — No answer.
  • In a follow-up, I asked Carmack-Altwies if taxpayers were bearing any costs of mediation or other parts of the case. — Answer: “Taxpayers are not paying for the restorative justice program.”
  • Have the prescribed 40 hours of community service been ordered for each defendant? What are the work details? Have they been completed? If not, when is the deadline? — No answer.
  • You promised accountability to the public. When will details of the reconciliation meetings be made available? Answer — “As I stated in the op-ed, this will be a 6 month to 2 year long process. It has been three months since the paperwork was filed with the Court.

“The pre-prosecution diversion program is ongoing and all seven of the defendants that were offered the program are compliant. I have no further information to release at this time.”

Though the Scofflaw Seven might be under court supervision for six months or more, Carmack-Altwies could be forthright about a case that she said would be on a community stage.

Nothing prohibits her from telling us if the defendants have written their admissions of guilt. They committed their crimes in October.

On the same track, Carmack-Altwies should want the public to know if these lawbreakers have been assigned community service, and what that part of their punishment includes.

Carmack-Altwies in May wrote that “restorative justice does not mean the obelisk defendants are getting off with just a slap on the wrist.” If that’s true, a public overview of the many rigors they’re enduring is in order.

Had the defendants been prosecuted in traditional fashion, developments in their cases would have been public. If they entered a plea, the judge would have questioned them in open court to make sure they did so freely. A factual basis for the plea also would have been part of the public record.

Had any of the Scofflaw Seven demanded a trial, that also would have been a public proceeding. No one would be left to wonder when an elected prosecutor might deign to inform her constituents about developments in a high-profile criminal case. This is no white-collar investigation where forensic accountants have to sort through a mountain of records. The crimes were as simple as they were ugly. Worse, seven people are being prosecuted while many more lawbreakers got away.

With abetting from Mayor Alan Webber and his malleable police commanders, the gutless gang destroyed historic public property in the light of day.

From the start, Webber and Carmack-Altwies have used weasel words to describe the case.

Webber said police standing down was smart strategy to prevent violence, as though the only options were mob rule or a police riot. Had police done their job by patrolling the Plaza, all violence could have been prevented.

Carmack-Altwies’ description of criminals who tore down the obelisk as “nonviolent” is an affront to the public. Other generalities she spews are as unconvincing now as when she floated them three months ago.

“Both the presence of and the toppling of the obelisk left people within our community deeply hurting,” Carmack-Altwies said. “I am pleased that we are pursuing a method of justice that will begin to heal those wounds.”

When exactly the healing will start is as muddy as ever.

Carmack-Altwies’ handling of the case has contorted the publicly funded legal system into something it was never supposed to be — a mystery to people who expected justice for all.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at or 505-986-3080.

(55) comments

Karla Moya-Crites

The mayor and DA really want to …..






He is a racist mayor toward Hispanic

“Make Santa Fe Better Get Rid of Alan Webber”

Andrew Lucero


Jarratt Applewhite

I am incensed by this incident. Those criminals had no right to destroy an important part of local history just because they were incensed by their interpretation of its legacy. I'm just as infuriated by the attempt to politicize this issue in some of these comments. We need justice which is impossible without accountability. Part of that is ensuring that the punishment for these bad actors is the same as it would have been if they were right wing hooligans. Milan is on the money. Coddling these folks doesn't heal a thing. It pushes us apart. We have enough of that already.

Khal Spencer


Bill Becher

It seems to me that these criminals should be forced to create a monument to the soldiers who were killed by the savage Indians while taking their land. They should include praise for the soldiers who gave blankets infected with smallpox as they were the first to use biological warfare.

Richard Reinders

Really? Are you on the CHART board

Tom Hyland

IT HAPPENED, Richard. It happened. There were savage natives and there were peaceable harmonious natives. Read "Blood and Thunder" by local author Hampton Sides if you want to understand the natives.... and how New Mexico was cobbled together. It wasn't pretty. This is the story of Kit Carson, whose memorial monument in front of the Federal courthouse the SJW's are itching to destroy. Get to know Kit a whole lot better and read this book.

Lupe Molina

That is NOT what Sides says in Blood and Thunder. Kit Carson hardly even comes out of that complimentary book unscathed.

Khal Spencer

You mean the Committee to Humiliate Anyone Remotely Truthful?

Emily Hartigan

Really disgusting comment.

Emily Hartigan

To suggest that giving anyone smallpox deliberately is anything but a war crime, is ignorance.

John Cook

I see that the kill-crazies are out in force today. If you had your way the folks who pulled down the obelisk would not have done it because they would have been gunned down by the police. Failing that you folks would have them imprisoned for life with no chance of parole. And you think the good people of Santa Fe will vote out a sensible prosecutor who is trying to heal, not exacerbate the situation. You are engaged in wishful thinking. We won't.

Mike Johnson

Totally in woke character I see, good there are some things in life that are constant......

rodney carswell

So "woke"? this is the new right wing smear? Your grievance machine is always hard at work thinking up new insults. The Unhappy American.

Khal Spencer

And the Left, Rodney, is always looking for more microaggressions and things to complain about. La-di-dah.

Khal Spencer

Are you going for the hyperbole award?

I think those most incensed would want these blokes charged with appropriate charging instruments such as felony destruction of property ("If a person commits criminal damage to property and the damage to the property amounts to more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), the person is guilty of a fourth degree felony and shall be sentenced in accordance with Section 31-18-15 NMSA 1978.") and tried in court. If anyone thinks the obelisk could have been restored for less than a grand, I say let's pay to do it.

Heck, The Berrigan Brothers and Father John Dear pounded on military hardware and proudly went to court, faced the music, and did their time for their civil disobedience. So did the nun and two old guys who snuck into Y-12 and splashed red paint on the high security facility. Heck, I respect them.

There is honesty in "manning up", so to speak, for that which you believe in. I have respect for the Berrigans, Fr. Dear, and the three defendants literally put their lives at risk going under the wire, so to speak, at Y-12. I don't have respect for the bums and cowards who destroy and run away or hide under the skirts of soft-headed/hearted DA's.

No, Mr. Cook. No one wants anyone marched out in front of the firing squad. Just a little transparent justice as appropriate.

Chris Mechels

Milan, you are welcome to file an IPRA request, like the rest of us citizens. The DA is under no obligation to answer your queries, so file an IPRA.

And, an issue you prefer to ignore, we need to restore the Grand Jury, which in the past was a place for citizens to take such complaints. The DA once was simply an attorney for the Grand Jury. Today, the DA commands the Grand Jury.

Still, by law, you can take criminal complaints to the Grand Jury, and they can hear them. Go ahead, try it. Then share with us what you've learned.

Are you trying to help us, your fellow citizens, from your exalted position, or just scratch some obscene itch?

Vince Czarnowski

Thank you, Milan, for keeping this issue in the spotlight. The recent burning of "The Solacii" sculpture is the exact type of fruit restorative justice yields. Both Webber and Carmack-Altwies think the people will forget. We will not and will make sure to remove them when election time rolls around.

Mike Johnson


Eli Bransford

Good article that asked good questions and makes solid points. More of this please.

Joseph Hempfling

what happens to JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.or has it become

just another BUMBERSTICKER?

Emily Hartigan

In all this, I learned that the process to heal the wound of the Entrada controversy took over two years of intense process by multiple concerned parties - a process that ended in a new Proclamation and a peaceful Fiesta.

Mr. Simonich rings the alarm much too soon. How old is the obelisk controversy? The city council initially voted to remove it in 1974, then changed its mind because of public reaction. An ordinary criminal prosecution can take years. Anything worthwhile takes time.

Khal Spencer

I have as much confidence in this process as I would something in East Germany run by the Stasi. Secret justice, whether done with a wink and a nod to one's friends or a crushing blow to one's foes, is not what the American criminal justice system is supposed to be about. Its about time we gave the principals in this judicial fiasco the bum's rush out of office.

I'm reading a Northwestern Univ. Law Review article presently. The gist of the article, "The State's Monopoly of Force and the Right to Bear Arms" by Robert Leider, says in part (quoting from the abstract), "...This Symposium Essay attacks the (government) monopoly-of-force account, justifying the continued relevance of American law’s decentralization of legitimate force. This Essay argues that decentralization of force remains important for three reasons. First, despite the rise of professional police, American law enforcement still enforces core crimes below desirable levels, particularly in disadvantaged and rural communities and during times of civil unrest. Decentralization of force mitigates this underenforcement problem. ..."

Maybe those individuals showing up to protect the monuments have a purpose after all if official government agencies turn a blind eye to rioting.

Mike Johnson


Tom Hyland

Cities in America that are predominately Democrat encourage, allow, and applaud violence and destruction of property, both public and private. All in the names of equity, equality, acceptance, restitution... you name it... if you've got a social ax to grind, and a violent one at that, your spastic fit will be embraced, honored and protected because these Democrat party members know they will be re-elected again and again. Last summer saw rampant elevation of violent destruction officially allowed and ignored and the self-righteous "justice" seekers of Santa Fe wanted a slice of the action. It was trendy and cool to destroy so the mayor and the police gave a wink and a nod and the social justice warriors owned the day. Now the city attorney is protecting the violence. Nice going. Will the accessories to the crime be re-elected? Santa Feans must reflect on the madness and change the toxic course this country is traveling.

Richard Reinders


Andrew Lucero


rodney carswell

In your ideologically blindered, biased, hyperbolic tale here, just remember TH, it was your people (right wingers), motivated by Trump lies, too much angry right wing media propaganda & a pent-up desire for mayhem, that tried to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States of America. If they had succeeded, America would have been officially over, done, kaput! Do you recall that event TH; it was on January 6 of this year? It was a very big deal; possibly the biggest.

Richard Reinders

Broken record Trump is gone and all those that rush the capital are being dealt with by a real justice system. Time to move on.

rodney carswell

Trump is not gone until he is called to the lower chamber. Besides, in case you haven't noticed, he infected the entire party; they have officially adopted Trump style lying and cheating as their party policy. And speaking of "broken record", you have gall calling someone else out on that score. You have your favorite themes to flog: the Plaza "insurrection", the Mayor, BLM, etc. Trump and the malfeasance and criminality that he enables is the story of our era and it will remain so until and if the GOP ever returns to civility.

Jim Klukkert

If only Trump and his sad band a dangerous insurrectionists were truly gone, Mr. Reinders, but they are still very much with us. No time to move on, at least not yet. More likely, a good time to increase one's situational awareness regarding continuing credible threats from the Neo-Fascist Alt-Right.

From Letters from an American, 3o August, by Heather Cox Richardson:

Yesterday, in an event hosted by the Macon County Republican Party, Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) insisted that the January 6 rioters are “political hostages” and said he wanted to “bust them out.” When someone in the audience asked “When are you going to call us to Washington again?” he said, “We are actively working on that one…. We have a few plans in motion that I can’t make public right now.” He called for removing Biden from office under the 25th Amendment and added, “when Kamala Harris inevitably screws up, we will take them down, one at a time.” He concluded by saying: “The Second Amendment was not written so that we can go hunting or we can shoot sporting clays…. The Second Amendment was written so that we can fight against tyranny.”

Increasingly, right-wing agitators are calling for violent overthrow of the government.

Today in Pennsylvania, Steve Lynch, a candidate for Northampton County executive, said: “Forget going into these school boards with freaking data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I’m going in with 20 strong men and I’m gonna give them an option—they can leave or they can be removed.”

At a protest in Santa Monica yesterday before a vote on a mask mandate, a man held a sign with the names and home addresses of each Los Angeles City Council member and said protesters would go to the homes of anyone who voted for the mandate and, if it passed, “Civil War is coming! Get your guns!”

This sort of street-level violence is known for radicalizing individuals as they get swept up in it and then later embrace the larger political arguments behind it. It also forces more reasonable individuals out of government positions as they conclude that their position on a school board, for example, is not worth threats against their families and their lives.

Far from trying to tamp down this violence, right-wing leaders are egging it on. Tonight, on the Fox News Channel, personality Tucker Carlson told his audience that no leader had apologized for “these terrible decisions” in Afghanistan. “This can’t go on,” he said. “When leaders refuse to hold themselves accountable, over time, people revolt…. We need to change course immediately… or else the consequences will be awful.”

The images on the screen behind Carlson were of President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, Defense Secretary Austin, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley. Carlson often tries to undermine the current leadership of the military, suggesting that he would welcome its replacement by officers he finds less objectionable.

Tom Hyland

Rodney, you are mistaken if you think my rear end is affixed to the Democrat/Republican see-saw. Mark Twain wrote, a long time ago, "If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it." I voted only once, had just turned 18 and cast my vote for Jimmy Carter. Four years later he was campaigning against a failed movie actor named Ronald Reagan and by then I had absorbed what Twain was talking about. I never voted again. All you're doing is claiming your place on the see-saw and you think you're on the side that's winning. Are you up or down currently? There is only one political party in this country and it starts wars, it bails out big banks and corporations and it foments chaos. Trump did it, Obama did it, "W" did it, Clinton did it, and Biden is most DEFINITELY doing it... big time. I'm not a "right winger." I am an American and We The People were here before the government. Stop endorsing your next jail warden, read some history, and maybe you might pull yourself out of this gravitational bias you are clinging to.

rodney carswell

It's hard not to like any thing that Mark Twain uttered. So you're a contrarian rebel; maybe identify as libertarian or maybe just as Tom Hyland/Self. Good luck with that.

Emily Hartigan

Hey, Tom, may I have your vote to cast? Just askin'

Khal Spencer

Good points, Tom.

Katherine Martinez

Please. Afghanistan is the real deal as far as true "insurrections", January 6 is a footnote; and by the way the perpetrators are being brought to justice slowly but surely one by one, so what is your gripe? Put a sock in it.

Jim Klukkert

Oh thank you Tom Hyland, for finally coming out with your full on Alt-Right flags a-flying!

And in case anyone might miss it, plenty of references to the Democrat, not Democratic, label.

You won't mind being quoted on these Neo-facsist sentiments, ¿que no?

Thanks again, for the clarity.

Katherine Martinez


Yet again, your party is taking this national tragedy in Afghanistan, this clumsy, club-footed exit, and trying to pivot and deflect blame on Trump or others with anecdotal evidence, and minimizing blame on Dementia Joe, as per the script. You can keep your books and tabulations all you like regarding January 6th. Please assure me about my future security regarding radical terrorism in my homeland.

Jim Klukkert

Katherine Martinez- the Democratic Party ain't my party, but you can cry if you want to Katherine! I have no dog in the fight regarding the botched exit from Afghanistan, no responsibility whatsoever. It is true that W. blew that one long ago when he pivoted away from chasing Bin Laden to pursued his fantasies of controlling Iraqi Oil. On 9/11, I knew the ruling clique would exploit that terror attack in order to maximize American Hegemony. And so they did: seems you might want to look at most Republican Congress people, as well as numerous Democrats, if you want to cast stones in your glass house.

So while you mistakenly assume that I am deflecting from attacks on Biden, you seem intent on burying the actual January Insurrection. When your post “You can keep your books and tabulations,” are you suggesting that we should ignore the factual evidence showing sitting Republicans planning to ‘liberate the hostages’ arrested for their January treason?

If you are truly concerned for your “future security regarding radical terrorism in my homeland,” you might want to know what plots lurk in the not so obscure corners of the Alt-Right. I listed a few in a previous comment quoting “Letters from an American” by Heather Cox Richardson. [BTW: 'Letters...' is a regular, continuing series of emails, not a book.] I would be glad to provide more sources if you would like to raise your awareness to potentially lethal threats to our Democratic Experiment.

You are concerned for our Democratic Experiment, ¿que no, Ms. Martinez? Or are you good with overthrowing our hopes for We the People controlling their own destiny?

Katherine Martinez


“There you go again”. In the world of post 9/11 most of us, including W, looked at our nation through a different lens. I certainly was afraid for my security on my own soil, weren’t you? I experienced that day rather vividly. This was a very confusing time, and both democrats and republicans were led astray going into the region including the holy grail of your leaders, Hillary Clinton 20 years ago. If you want to go back even farther and cast stones as you say, let’s study Billy boy’s handling of the issue during his tenure shall we? Care to unpack some mistakes there Jim? Let’s put all the sweat and energy of the January 6th tabulating machine into securing our homeland from radical, hateful extremists, who want to de-capitate our society, and disrupt our way of life. Don’t fool yourself. Yes, we can disrupt ourselves from within, but these militants have a greater motive—and that is our alliance with Israel and our Western culture and values (e.g. sending our women to school and not beating them as a matter of law or ritual, for instance).

Jim Klukkert

Your assumptions, Katherine Martinez, are once again way over the top.

Perhaps you need to speak to a Democratic Party regular, and that would not be me. I identify as a Democratic Socialist. Never a fan of the Clinton clique, though thought Bill's sax was okay.

I was not confused at all by 9/11; I knew the Project for the 21st Century would pull the American public into Imperialist Adventures Abroad, as it has at every feeble opportunity. You were confused and fooled? I was not fooled, nor confused, for an instant. Your mistakes, your weakness, not mine.

You experienced 9/11 rather vividly? Wow. How long did you live in NYC? What borough? Sure, really vividly.

You want me to defend Bill Clinton, serial sexual predator and the author of Welfare to Work? I don't think so.

We can dialogue again, when you have forsaken foolish assumptions, dear. Until then, Ciao!

y ¡hasta la victoria siempre!

Katherine Martinez


Emilia Martinez


Mark Blackburn

This general attitude is one of the many reasons I sold my home in Santa Fe and moved to Albuquerque. Santa Fe is nothing more than a progressive toxic sanctuary city stain on New Mexico.

Lupe Molina

Good riddance.

rodney carswell

Don't let a burrito bash you on your way out of our town.

Khal Spencer

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Mark?

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Yes, Khal, I see no significant difference today, in any factors, between ABQ and Santa Fe, both are places I would never live.

Jim Klukkert

And yet Mr. Blackburn, you love to return to further pollute these pages.

Elizabeth Pettus

Should have been pre-trial….sorry

Elizabeth Pettus

I don’t believe that the public is seen as deserving explanation in this sort of Pretoria diversion. It is frustrating and should be changed, but I don’t think it is just this DA. We have seen this with other criminals, and for those injured, it doesn’t seem fair or appropriate.

Devin Bent

In the United States we have traditionally believed that justice is most likely to be achieved if law enforcement is transparent and governed by published codes, rules, laws, procedures. Restorative justice should be no exception. Our DA, however, seems to be making this up as she goes along. She has dealt a serious blow to the cause of restorative justice.

Cheryl Odom


Mike Johnson

Well said Devin, and she has dealt a fatal blow to justice in general, IMO. This is as bad as it gets for justice.

Stefanie Beninato

Thanks, Devin

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