One of six people charged in the Oct. 12 destruction of the Plaza obelisk sent an email to a local judge, the mayor of Santa Fe and the city police chief saying he hopes the city will find a “reasonable and amicable” resolution to the legal saga.

“I am hoping we can resolve all of this amicably and move on as a city,” Stephen Fox said in the email. “To single out six people for the non-criminal actions of 40 or so is a priori and peremptorily unjust.”

A copy of the message — intended for Magistrate George Anaya, Mayor Alan Webber, Chief Andrew Padilla and a few local journalists — was filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court on Wednesday.

Fox, 72, who owns the Millennium Fine Art Gallery downtown, was the most recent person accused of helping to topple the Civil War-era monument that had stood in the center of the Plaza for over 150 years. He faces charges of criminal damage to property over $1,000, conspiracy and unlawful assembly — counts tied to an incident that erupted during an Indigenous Peoples Day rally. About 50 protesters pulled down the top three sections of the 33-foot structure using a rope and chain. All that remains on the Plaza is the monument’s base.

Local tattoo artist Dawn Furlong; Melissa Rose and her daughter Lauren Straily, both of Santa Fe; Lily Sage Schweitzer of Pennsylvania; and Ryan Witt of Maryland face similar charges. All five have appeared at recent arraignment hearings in Magistrate Court.

Fox’s first court appearance is scheduled Dec. 8.

He said in an interview Thursday he doesn’t believe he needs legal representation.

According Fox’s email, he contacted Webber on Oct. 11, the second day of what protesters called a Plaza “occupation” in observation of Indigenous Peoples Day. Fox “lamented the excessive display of police force on the plaza. Which seemed like something out of Iraq or Afghanistan, not Santa Fe and not the USA,” he wrote the in the email.

He compared the scene to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where 10,000 demonstrators were met by 23,000 police and National Guardsmen in an encounter that led to rioting in Chicago.

The obelisk long had created controversy. For decades, some Native American activists and their allies decried the monument as racist due to an inscription on one side of its base dedicating it to “heroes who died in battles with savage Indians.”

The call for its removal intensified amid a nationwide movement this summer against statues and monuments deemed racist, and Webber announced in June, a day ahead of a planned protest, the obelisk should be removed from the city-owned park.

But the mayor never followed through on the action.

The city, with help from a crew contracted by the Governor’s Office, attempted to remove the monument overnight before the June protest but halted the effort when it began to damage the structure.

The mayor also promised to form what he then called a “truth and reconciliation commission,” but he didn’t move forward with the plan until after the monument was toppled.

Prior to the obelisk’s destruction Oct. 12, what began as a peaceful rally on the Plaza became more raucous.

A commander ordered police to leave the park as interactions between protesters and officers grew chaotic. Two men, Sean Sunderland and Dylan Wrobel, were arrested during the skirmish.

Fox said Thursday he doesn’t believe the conspiracy charge against him is warranted.

“I didn’t conspire at all,” Fox said. “I think I prevented bloodshed by calling the mayor the night before.”

In his email, Fox also said he doesn’t believe the gathering should be characterized as illegal because police decided to vacate the Plaza.

“When the police chose not to be there, how could it be an illegal gathering?” Fox wrote. “Mayor Webber could clarify a lot of these matters further. As to why and how I was charged, there are a number of other factors that deserve exploration and further discernment.”

In the email and during an earlier interview with The New Mexican, Fox admitted he helped pull on the rope that brought the obelisk crashing to the ground.

“When they pulled, I pulled, and that was that,” Fox wrote in the email. “When one of the 40 or so activists handed me the rope, I gladly accepted, having been a Native American art dealer for the past 40 years.”

In the previous interview with The New Mexican, Fox said he wouldn’t have accepted the rope if he didn’t think the mayor wanted the obelisk brought down.

“I stand by that,” Fox said Thursday. “I would never had done that. It was perfectly clear that this was a solution that was waiting to take place.

“He’s a good guy, a good mayor, and he made it clear that he wanted this obelisk removed,” Fox added. “The mayor has said, as has others, that it should have waited, but what a better day than Indigenous Peoples Day?”

According to emails obtained by The New Mexican, Fox wasn’t the only person who contacted Webber before the monument’s destruction.

Carrie Wood, a member of the Santa Fe-based Indigenous advocacy group Three Sisters Collective, wrote in an Oct. 11 email, “All of the scenarios I can imagine happening will end in the obelisk being taken down by the city or ‘the people.’ ”

“In truth, I think the obelisk as it looks now is actually really nice,” Fox said during Thursday’s interview. “It’s gray, it’s a cube. It actually looks a lot better.”

(70) comments

Katherine Martinez

Talk about white privilege, who does this guy think he is? That he can gain sympathy with his fellow carpet bagger politico's and get off scott free? Criminally vandalize our town, disregarding the rule of law, and continue to do business as if he was doing everyone a favor? How arrogant can you be?

Tom Hyland

Thank you, Katherine. My sentiments exactly. Anyone who thinks destroying the obelisk was going to be a huge come-together moment for healing racial division is a delusional virtue-signaling brain donor. I wonder how many Christmas cards Fox will be receiving this year from his fellow merchant neighbors on the Plaza. As Bugs Bunny used to say... "What a maroon!"

Tom Hyland

Pathetic that everyone is crying about vandalism in a deserted park. Bricks through the windows is forthcoming... because it's all been planted that way. In 2006, a 15-year-old high school student from Albuquerque, New Mexico won third place in the Intel science and engineering fair for her project on slowing the spread of an infectious pathogen during a pandemic emergency. Using a computer simulation that she developed with the help of her father, A Sandia Labs employee, she argued that in order to slow the spread of the disease, governments should implement school shutdowns, keep kids at home and enforce social distancing. Would you like to learn how the lockdowns were invented right here in New Mexico? Turn off the television. Learn something. https://www.corbettreport.com/lockdowns/

Khal Spencer

What I object to, to say for the umpteenth time, is the lack of process. In The City Different, a self-appointed mob tore down the obelisk. Contrast that with New Orleans, where a statue of Gen. Lee was peacefully removed following a vote of the City Council to remove it.

https://www.npr.org/2017/05/20/529232823/with-lee-statues-removal-another-battle-of-new-orleans-comes-to-a-close

What happened here was a failure of government to act to do one of two things. One, vote to remove the obelisk or two, act to protect it. After all, the Governing Body is elected by us and presumably could have voted to remove the obelisk, following all relevant laws, peacefully. Instead, government fussed and our self appointed mob of historical purity acted on their own, certainly not respecting or representing the public in this city.

So that is my beef. The obelisk both honored Union troops who fought to keep New Mexico in the Union and also honored soldiers who fought in the Indian wars, at one time going so far as to refer to my fellow countrymen as "savages". Although that awful word was chiseled out, the stench for many remained although to me, the fact that the chisel was taken to the work itself indicated that we have changed our thinking.

So this could have been constructive. Instead, it was a mess. As far as a Truth and Reconciliation Committee? It has its work cut out for it in digging through all the anger.

But really. As I have said before, its a lot easier to topple a statue than to change a culture that still struggles with inequality. Which is why some take the easy path. Sure, take hold of the rope. With enough political rope, you can hang yourselves.

Russell Scanlon

Good points. I guess this is part of the struggle as our society (hopefully) recognizes and appreciates our diversity

Mike Johnson

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Russell Scanlon

I don’t know. I certainly understand people’s anger about the destruction of a historical monument and a familiar part of the city’s landscape. But on the other hand, this kind of thing is happening all across the country as we, as a racially diverse and blended nation, come to some kind of reckoning about our history and acknowledge the unpleasant realities as well as the successes and triumphs. Humanity is stained by violence, particularly towards Native peoples and African Americans and ignoring that fact is not helpful to our continuing evolution and survival of our society. The obelisk is gone, and there is no chaos in the streets of Santa Fe, as some of the commentators here have suggested. We can acknowledge the amazing history and cultural mix of this area without whitewashing the facts. I also think that the folks who actually toppled the monument should be charged with the appropriate crime and fined or sentenced to community service. Mr. Fox makes some good points, but the best examples of protest are always non-violent and non-destructive.

Mike Johnson

Well said, thank you. And I guess I would have to wonder how much better the lives of the alleged oppressed in the country are after these monuments and statues are removed? Do they really think this is starting a dialogue for change and reconciliation? Is it making their lives more meaningful, rich, and settled? It hasn't changed anything so far, and I suspect it never will, it just drives deeper and broader wedges between Americans and makes us more divided than ever. How can that change? Certainly not by taking even more historic monuments and statues down, history and the future cannot be changed in that manner.

Khal Spencer

Hear, hear!

Carlos Vasquez

Go Fox, Go! As We become known as a Top 8 destination on the Planet due to our Living Pueblo Culture - NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - breaking news. IF the Pueblo Revolt of 240 years ago had not succeeded, the Spanish would have killed off this culture. Now We who are a mix of this New World should attempt to respect both the strands of our DNA. We should find the way forward which we can all walk together. And, let's make a wonderful center spot where people can participate.

Carlos Vasquez

typo-ooops : Pueblo Revolt of 340 years ago

Mike Johnson

" IF the Pueblo Revolt of 240 years ago had not succeeded.." OK, let's suppose it not only succeeded, but the reconquest by the Spanish had not happened or failed, and that the Anglo liberation of the SW had failed, what kind of place do you think you would be living in today? I doubt you would enjoy it.

Carlos Vasquez

"liberation? of an evil created by the 'Anglo"?

We've been enjoying it for millenia - go by Chaco canyon

The 12 years between 1680 and 1692 were the re-emergence and/or the dodging of extinction of/by the Natives at the hands of Spanish domination fyi.

B. Rosen

I see this entire incident as tragic evidence of the degradation of our political discourse in this country. In the posts here people hurl nasty epithets at those folks with whom they disagree, they continue to frame this issue as an “us vs. them” one, there is little or no effort to empathize with the other side. Before this debate started, I couldn’t have possibly cared less about any of the statues and monuments on public property here. I thought, if they are offensive to some folks, the take them down, move the. To private property. However, I have since learned how deeply some folks in our community feel these objects are part of their shared cultural identity, and I would want that to be respected. Respecting these feelings is going to be difficult hover because some people found these very same monuments to be offensive since they were commemorations of their culture’s subjugation. I believe we could have found a better solution to this than to have an unruly mob deface and destroy this monument. An act that did nothing to improve the lives of anyone in our community and has only served to further divide us. We need to learn to listen to one another and not resort to simplistic enemy images of the other when they disagree with us. There are a lot of wonderful and interesting people in Santa Fe, for a relatively small city, we have a rich diversity here. Can’t we find more intelligent and thoughtful ways of resolving our differences than this?

Carlos Vasquez

Thank God that Daniel Chacon, did not try to write this important piece...;

Gerald Montoya

Mr. Fox, have your heard the saying "Don't (bleep) where you eat?" Your actions did just that. I find your barbaric behavior was not any better than the symbol on the Plaza that you found so offensive. The iconic structure you helped to destroy is yet one more idiot's attempt to erase the culture, history (good and bad), architecture, and way of life that attracted you and others to Santa Fe in the first place. Those of us original Santa Feans have only memories of the of the wonderful "city different" of the past. It's a tough pill to swallow when hypocrites like you chip away at destroying the city images that you've benefited from for many years. I won't be satisfied until your placed behind bars and forced to pay restitution to the city and it's residents for the remainder of your life. You might consider moving to Portland OR where civil unrest one of the main industries. You would fit in there well.

Andrew Lucero

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David Romero

I like tis post. I couldn't have said it any better.

Carlos Vasquez

Be careful with in the "1st place" - did you know that if the Natives had not succeeded in the Pueblo Revolt 240 years ago, they would not have survived the barbaric Spanish. If they had not survived we -Santa Fe' - would not be part of the top 8 destinations on the planet according to the new National Geographic assessment: Our Living Pueblo Culture is what this country originates from, and what it aspires to in many ways. And, it is why "we" are on the list. Not to be denegrated further by a US gov that treated you and yours like you know what. Not to mention what they did to our ancestors: the actual Mexicans and the Natives, bro! btw Fox and I both went to College w Obama!!!

Ramon David

"For decades, some Native American activists and their allies decried the monument as racist due to an inscription on one side of its base dedicating it to “heroes who died in battles with savage Indians.” The word savage was removed in 1974.

David Romero

These people are always crying about something.

Carlos Vasquez

Oh, Ok ...that makes it all better hito, que no? What about the tio who climbed over and scraped away the word ' savage' in broad delight with his work tools? A la Brava c/s

Tom Hyland

Sure wish you people at the newspaper would allow an editing tool. I meant to say the vandalism was a "black" eye.

Tom Hyland

Steve Fox is suiciding his own business. Here's a gallery owner, dependent upon visitors to Santa Fe, lending a hand to destroy the center of the Plaza. Ask the shop owners, the restaurant people, the La Fonda Hotel folks, the Natives who used to sell jewelry, if a violent mob bent on destruction successfully added to the ambiance of the Plaza and Santa Fe in general. This vandalism is a back eye for all merchants and a big turn off towards all potential tourists. Santa Fe is being systematically destroyed by the mayor and the governor all in the name of the faked pandemic. We are commanded to stay inside and shop online. This is the end of the physical reality of Santa Fe and these 6 virtue-signaling defendants, all of them white, attacked and destroyed because they thought this would improve everything? Six of the accused thought the Native Americans would rejoice? The predicted destruction was condoned by the mayor and the police who are most guilty of this travesty. The prosecution of the vandals is a red herring, a stinking diversion to take your mind off the real crime taking place, namely, Agenda 2030, in which all corporations and governments are deconstructing civilization and forcing everyone into poverty and oblivion. Willing tools like Mr. Fox are the gullible rabble who are assisting in their own suicide. Nice going.

Stefanie Beninato

You do know that Stephen Fox stayed open when there was to be no in store shopping this past spring? I repeatedly saw him then sitting in front of his gallery maskless. I saw him not wearing a mask walking his dogs around town on a regular basis. Stephen Fox is rumored to be a trust fund baby (20C Fox) who has always been seen as "eccentric"....so privilege is part of his being apparently.

Bonnie Cox

Just watch. With all of the publicity, they'll claim these idiots cannot get a fair trial in Santa Fe and demand a change of venue. Of course, added expense to prosecute at the tax papers expense!

Carlos Vasquez

Fox will be smart, around he will dart

Finding ways to negotiate, and WE all will participate.

Why did they take down columbus in Madrid(spain)?

Why did SFIS(Santa Fe) take down the old trees and buildings(pain)

Anita McGinnis

Exactly, the eyesore on the plaza is just a clue for what the Great Reset and Agenda 2030 is planning.

Stefanie Beninato

OMG yet another unsupported conspiracy theory. I wish our schools taught critical thinking, civics and history (yes I know there are required history classes but when they are taught by football coaches I am not sure of the quality of the instruction. I knew one coach/history teacher who thought we lived in a democracy--not a republic for example. He did not know what a primary sources was etc.)

Carlos Vasquez

you so smaat

Tom Hyland

Agenda 2030 IS a conspiracy, but it is very real, not a theory or some elusive idea that only some believe in. You will never learn anything about Agenda 2030, promulgated by World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, if you watch TV as your primary news source. Apparently I can't leave a link here or my post is decreed spam by this paper. Go onto bitchute and dial up James Corbett who has created a video titled What No One Is Saying About The Lockdowns. The lockdown was invented right here in New Mexico at Sandia Labs. Learn something before you start crying conspiracy theory.

Carlos Vasquez

actually, 2020(:

David Romero

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Carlos Vasquez

No Tom, You won't try to intimidate and injure an older gentleman who has a legacy of actually empowering the Native community. Who are you? I'll wait in front of the gallery...

Tom Hyland

@ Carlos Vasquez... read Katherine Martinez's comment at the top of this page. Katherine has highlighted the only issue directly for what it is. Fox is a vandal masquerading as a virtuous soldier fighting for racial equality?? Nobody believes this nonsense except the very few and delusional, you being one of that group. Fox has pooped in his own bed. He relies upon visitors to Santa Fe and the Plaza area in particular. Fox has desecrated the ambiance of this tragically injured city and every merchant and visitor to Santa Fe is being punished for it.

Emily Koyama

So, Following Mr Fox's logic, since many of the vandals have not yet been identified, those that were, should be let off.

Kinda like telling the Police to cut loose two of the bank robbers they caught, because the other four in the gang got away.

Mike Johnson

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Augustin de la Sierra

Gallery Owner Stephen Fox, I think the email you sent recently to the judge and others was well-written. I support your defense in this prosecution. I remain unhappy with those who criticize the actions of the group who took the monument down without also conceding how disgustingly racist and hateful the writing on the side of the monument is.

I continue to find Mayor Webber's reference to a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission lacking in thought. The phrase refers to what the country of South Africa did post-apartheid, to help people find some peace after incredible, recent violence, from amputations to rape to being burned alive via "necklacing." For the Mayor to suggest that anything in recent years was similar to what happened in South Africa revolts me. I think his intellect is quite small.

Khal Spencer

Martin Luther King wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail because when he broke the law to protest unjust laws, he was willing to take his medicine. These clowns want to have it both ways: destruction of property and civil disobedience and being let off scot free. Bah, humbug. They did the damage, they face the music and pay the piper.

Thomas Franks

Thank you Mr. Spencer for writing exactly what I was about to write. I taught Dr. King's letter from a Birmingham jail as well as Thoreau on Civil Disobedience for years in philosophy classes, and the point you make has to be stressed. So many disregard that important part of their remarks on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau and King both indeed went to jail for their disobedience.

Khal Spencer

Thank you Mr. (Dr.?) Franks. Are you the Thomas Franks who taught at E. Michigan U? Seems we need to teach these works in Santa Fe!

Carlos Vasquez

and look what happened to him, in a time when 49% or so of Blacks may have been willing to accept what the white man was going to give them if MLK would stop rabble-rousing...that movement fizzled w/ time, although the embers are now alight in what we all knew would be a crystal ball of a year - see it soo clearly 2020

Mike Johnson

True Khal, but Dr. King never destroyed or vandalized public property. Those are actions of common criminals, not "activists".

Thomas Franks

Good point, Mr. Johnson

Augustin de la Sierra

But did Khal Spencer, Thomas Franks or Mike Johnson ever object to the disgusting, denigrating remark on the side of the monument? No.

Thomas Franks watches his neighbors be persecuted on a routine basis and has happily participated in this persecution. He has no place lecturing others about doing the right thing.

Augustin de la Sierra

The biggest irony is that Khal Spencer, Tom Franks and Mike Johnson speak of non-violence while they defend a monument dedicated to the celebration of war. I think you folks know nothing of non-violent, non-cooperation.

Khal Spencer

"But did Khal Spencer, Thomas Franks or Mike Johnson ever object to the disgusting, denigrating remark on the side of the monument? No."

Really? You have no idea, likely, what any of us said. Your comment is a prize example of the Straw Man Fallacy. You flunk.

Mike Johnson

Augustin, those of us who have been in wars, and fought to preserve our freedoms, know very well that wars are not celebrated, the brave people who fought and died in them, for people like you, are, as this obelisk memorializes. Without their sacrifices and bravery, this would be a very different place, instead of the glorious, prosperous, and free land, the greatest country in the world, we live in now.

Khal Spencer

I have previously referenced this blog post of mine and suggested that these monuments are political as well as historic, and can be negotiated, moved, mocked, or otherwise dealt with as our mores change. This could have been done with the obelisk, had vandals not taken matters into their own hands.

https://northmesamutts.blogspot.com/2017/08/war-memorials-arent-created-equal.html

Carlos Vasquez

!Adelante! Como los dias de antes...

Carlos Vasquez

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Lee DiFiore

This story and this guy should be on the comics page. And I agree with Jon Bull, it's nice to know which business he owns so it/he can feel the impact of the cancel culture he and his lefty friends are so fond of.

Carlos Vasquez

His business will thrive, and you would be remiss to interfere in any material way,

Carolyn DM

YAWWWNNNN!!!

Mike Johnson

I do think Mr Fox should call Webber as a defense witness, showing Webber ordered the action, that would be entertaining testimony at least.....[lol]

Comment deleted.
Maria Bautista

Steve, friendly with Webber! And MLG agreeing off the cuff. But he refuses to wear a mask, and is nonessential store is open. But he gets no citations or fines.

Jon Bull

How about this person who thinks he is above the law and knows what’s best for all of us step up and pay for its repair or replacement. It’s also nice to know which gallery he owns so I don’t have to support behavior like this.

Barry Rabkin

"Non-criminal?" Of course it was a criminal act. Whether the monolith was on State land or Federal land, no 'group of people' can take it on themselves to pull it down (regardless of what the monolith had written on it; no matter how traumatic any person or people felt when they saw the monolith or read what was written on it). To take it down requires a legal process (and it is irrelevant how long that legal process takes to reach a conclusion about whether and when to take it down).

Khal Spencer

[thumbup] Decisions should not drag on forever, but this was a criminal act and likely should be a felony given the amount of destruction that occurred.

Carlos Vasquez

Columbus statue removed recently in Madrid, Spain. By public choice. Why did Webber commit, (yet fail in the physical effort), to remove this obelisk- in it's entirety?? as you know he did get the Onate out of Cathedral Park

Khal Spencer

I'll say one thing for this guy. He's got a lot of chutzpah. If we want an amicable resolution, let those six clowns rebuild the obelisk at their expense. Otherwise, off to the Greybar Hotel with the six and any others we can convict.

Barry Rabkin

Exactly right...

Anita McGinnis

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Carlos Vasquez

We six are legion, and would happily rebuild together with all who would like

Richard Reinders

Its the same nonsense you hear out of California where they don't prosecute you if you needed what you stole like $300. Nikes. Or your not registered as a sex offender if your with in 10 years of age of the the person you sexually offended. We all know where Webber stands on this issue IMO he set it up to happen, but I hope the Judge knows a crime is still a crime and needs to be prosecuted according to the law. That is why I feel that the Feds need to get involved, to guarantee justice for the public.

Maria Bautista

Exactly, Webber did set it up!

Maria Bautista

Right on Richard, justice for the people if Santa Fe. These were outsiders, welcomed to share the beauty of our state, and 3 Sisters warning Webber, he was what started the problem Making backroom deals he could not keep.

David Romero

Now he says he would't have accepted the rope if he didn't think the mayor wanted it down. Before he said he didn't want the rope but it was handed to him. What an idiot. You know, the mental ward in Las Vegas might be better for him.

Shawn Chafins

They need to throw the book at these pukes.

David Romero

I agree. A hefty fine and the maximum jail time in the county jail, in general population, is an amicable conclusion. Won't happen. He probably contributed the Webber's campaign.

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