Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber condemned the actions of activists and other community members who brought the Plaza obelisk tumbling down with ropes and chains on Indigenous People’s Day on Monday.

“The violence and damage to a historic monument in the middle of our Plaza will not help our community come together when we most need to do so,” the mayor said Monday in a live video statement on Facebook.

“Those who took this action have broken the law and they’ve broken trust,” Webber added. “It leaves an ugly mark on our community and should be condemned by all who are about the peace and well being of the city of Santa Fe.”

The mayor did not address what was an apparent lack of police presence at the time the monument was being dismantled. They had been on the scene earlier.

But in a late Monday news release, the city said six officers had been on the scene and two were attacked. According to the news release, the police department had no intelligence that led it to believe the demonstration would become violent.

“The Police Department has consistently maintained a protocol that values life over property,” the statement said. “Having seen other demonstrations around the country turn violent and lead to serious injury or loss of life, the police used that protocol in this situation.”

Santa Fe city councilors also expressed disapproval of the manner in which the obelisk was dismantled, both in interviews and during an emergency City Council meeting convened hours after the obelisk was felled.

Several said the city should have acted earlier to prevent people from taking the matter into their own hands, and said they had not been privy to any discussion about how the police department should have responded.

City Councilor Renee Villarreal, who represents District 1, which includes the Plaza, said in a telephone interview she was “shocked and saddened” by Monday’s events.

“I think this is a terrible way for the obelisk to come down regardless of how people felt about it,” she said. “Me and my colleagues do not condone the destruction of public property and it’s really terrible the way this played out.”

Villarreal said the mayor had not acted quickly enough to form a committee to discuss the fate of the obelisk after it became a flashpoint for unrest in June.

But she added, “We can’t blame one person; we are all to blame.”

Villarreal said she didn’t know what direction, if any, the mayor gave police about how to respond to the unauthorized demolition of the monument, but she said officers should have been there.

“There should have been a clear police presence for the safety of the people,” she said. “They needed to be there, and I don’t know what happened there. That was a failure on the city’s part.”

Villarreal said during the emergency council meeting that she wanted to view footage from the city’s surveillance cameras to see for herself what transpired Sunday night and Monday, rather than being told what happened.

It was unclear Monday what the city councilors knew and when they knew it.

District 3 City Councilor Chris Rivera said he spoke to Webber around noon, just before the crowd pulled down the first of three segments of the stone monument.

“I was told by the mayor it was somewhat violent and he advised us to stay away,” Rivera said, adding he also had no information about what, if anything, Santa Fe police had been instructed to do.

“I’m a lifelong resident of Santa Fe, and I’m a little upset they went to this extreme,” said Rivera. “I think there are more peaceful way to try to accomplish what you want without defacing public property or really being aggressive towards another group of people that also live in this town.

“I get the fact that maybe history isn’t quite written the way they feel it should have been or the way it actually did happen,” Rivera said. “But there are other, more peaceful ways to get your voice heard.”

Rivera said he would have liked to have seen the monument stand unaltered and advocated for another monument in a form that a committee of community representatives could have agreed upon.

“This was, from what I saw, maybe the work of 50, 60, 70 people, which I don’t think really represents the community, and I’m not even sure where they were from,” he said.

District 4 Councilor Joanne Vigil Coppler also expressed dismay.

“I regret that this is happening, but it shows there is a lot of consternation in our city,” she said, adding she’d received several phone calls and messages from constituents on the topic.

Vigil Coppler said she wasn’t sure why a committee had not been formed to begin addressing the monument in recent months. If that work had been done, she contended, perhaps Monday’s unrest could have been avoided.

District 1 City Councilor Signe Lindell sent a text message echoing her fellow councilor’s sentiments.

“We can understand the feelings that led to today’s actions,” she wrote. “And we in the City Council should have moved more quickly on a public process regarding the obelisk. However, we can never condone acts of destruction, no matter the intentions behind them. To do so undermines our democratic processes and ideals.”

Councilors said they plan to address the issue of the monuments — including what might need to be done to protect other monuments that could be targeted — at a regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday.

Santa Fe author and historian John Pen LaFarge likened those who carried out the destruction of the monument to toddlers having a fit, and said their actions damaged the city’s very core.

“The integrity of the heart of this town, the authenticity at the heart this town, the very thing that makes this town what it is, the center of it literally and figuratively has now been destroyed,” he said.

(59) comments

Jitty Bap

Talk is cheap, and the City didn’t even get that right. It’s insulting to scold people (who have never actually been listened to) for not engaging in “dialog”.

Leesa Vigil

This is a sad day for all of us who grew up in Santa Fe to see what happened yesterday. It's disheartening to read what people are saying about the monument and the plaque. So many misconceptions and misunderstandings. I've seen people referring to it as a 'Confederate' monument. It wasn't. It was a Union monument, erected to honor those who fought the 'Indians'. Settling the West was not easy. It was violent and it was bloody. The monument was erected at a very different time in the state, under very different circumstances. Whereas people today are offended at the word 'savage', that sadly was the atmosphere back in the late 1860s and earlier. What was also different was that there were violent 'Indian' raids and innocent people were murdered and tortured. Through research, I found that my great grandfather twice removed fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union. He was a member of the cavalry and they were part of these troops that were fighting 'Indians'. His daughter married a Native American from Taos. We're intertwined, almost imperceptibly, Hispano and Native American here in New Mexico. Our history is complicated. It's troubling either that many people who condone what happened yesterday don't know the history of the state and even moreso to hear recent transplants or outside agitators on the news or on social media rattling off misinformation and ignorance. Many thought the monument should be removed. Maybe? Maybe a new plaque was in order? I don't know, but it's gone and the spectacle yesterday was disgraceful and painful (and criminal). It did nothing to bridge the two sides together. Reconciliation becomes a lot harder now. Hispanos aren't going anywhere. Neither are Native Americans. I'll attach some historical articles from 1866 for perspective.

Leesa Vigil

Images can't be uploaded here.

rodney carswell

well said and heartfelt Ms. Vigil

Carlos Vasquez

Do you remember the trees along Cerrillos Rd. where the Indian School is? Do you know why the Native people chose to cut down all those trees and remove all the old buildings? Because they finally had accrued enough political and economic sovereignty to do it their way - which was to try to erase the memories of brutal colonialism and forced assimilation that had taken place in the past. A past they now had the power to begin reconciling for themselves. The new generation of these Native people are very much like new generations of educated Black people who are now able to make a reasoned and informed choice based on the fact that history is happening.

Kurt Browning

We seem to be no different than other parts of the world (Middle East?) that continue to fight over transgressions from 1000 years ago. Everyone of us has blemishes in our history, but there has to be a better way.

Anita McGinnis

Portland had its own "Day of Rage" celebration yesterday too. The Santa Fe communist kids don't want to be left behind. They say that they want to destroy colonialism. What does that mean? Who exactly are they against and where does their "righteous" violence end? Isn't this simply for political power? Perhaps the city could decree several days of "Rage Celebration" complete with burning, killing and a parade. In fact these could replace Indian market weekend, Spanish market and the Fiesta. Don't trigger me, I'm sensitive... Que viva la rage!!

Jarratt Applewhite

Destroying historic relics is always bad. There are many ways record how views have changed while preserving the past -- however distasteful that past now appears. By doing so, we preserve the truth and leave our successors accurate context. Despots work hard to rewrite history. We shouldn't join them.

It may well be that this monument no longer serves its original purpose. If so, after deliberation, a more relevant memorial could be created to replace it and the outdated historical heirloom could be preserved elsewhere.

Augustin de la Sierra

I understand the obelisk contained the following words:

"To the heroes who have fallen in various battles with resilient [written in black magic marker] Indians in the Territory of New Mexico."

Prior to 1974, the word "savage" was chiseled into the stone where "resilient" is now magic markered in its place.

I do not celebrate as "heroes" those people who warred against indigenous folks. If I had had more notice, I would have joined the protestors in pulling down the monument as safely as possible.

I want the question put to each City Councilor and the Mayor: Do you celebrate as heroes those people who warred against indigenous people? If not, then I think it is a rare instance where one should direct sharp words towards these otherwise hard-working and underpaid civil servants: Shut up. City Councilors and the Mayor should either show some respect for the obviously excellent intentions of these protesters, or you all should resign from the Democratic Party.

Would someone please tell me how to get on the e-mail list for the protestors?

-- Augustin, a moderate Democrat

John Haynes

In the East and the South people tear down monuments to the Confederacy. Here in “City Different,”a mob of activists torn down a monument to the defeat of the Confederacy. The obelisk has four sides. One side reads: “To The Heroes Of The Federal Army Who Fell At The Battle Of Valverde Fought With The Rebels February 21, 1862.” A second reads: "To The Heroes Of The Federal Army Who Fell At The Battles Of Canon Del Apache And Pigeons Rancho (La Glorieta) Fought With The Rebels March 28, 1862 And To Those Who Fell At The Battle Fought With The Rebels At Perilta April 15, 1862.” A third reads: “Erected By The People Of New Mexico Through Their Legislatures Of 1866 - 7 - 8. MAY THE UNION BE PERPETUAL.” These three sides were all commemorations of the defeat of the Confederate invasion of New Mexico aimed at making New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado into Confederate slave territories. The fourth side, the back side facing away from the Santa Fe Governor’s Palace reads: "To The Heroes Who Have Fallen In Various Battles With Savage Indians In The Territory Of New Mexico. “Savage” was later chiseled out.

The obelisk on three sides is an American Civil War monument commemorating the victory of the Union and the defeat of the Confederacy. No doubt tearing down a monument to the defeat of the Confederate attempt to make New Mexico a Confederate slave territory will warm the hearts of Neo-Confederates nostalgic for the “Lost Cause.”

David Romero

It also said the words reflect the times in which they were written.

Stefanie Beninato

Alan Webber and other councilor's remarks are mealmouthed, trying to be politically correct or neutral, while getting a PR moment. "A LITTLE upset" for example? As I told the 10 police officers sitting shoulder to shoulder at the plaza bandstand last night--their presence is appreciated but too little too late (BTW 2 were not wearing masks)

Ed Li

City officials sat on their laurels and did nothing constructive in having the monument removed. And the recent temporary wooden wall built around the monument was just that, temporary! Earliest protesting that I have read about was in the early 70’s! I feel not one ounce of remorse for “bemoaning” city officials and/or residents of Santa Fe who are overtly whining about the way this hateful monument was removed. You all had more than enough time, decades even and ignored it, so the opposition took it into their own hands. Bravo to them!

Maxwell Vertical

I don't want to hear anyone condemning anything. That's an empty word.

All I want to hear is a full throated commitment to bringing the perpetrators to justice. Period.

Ezekiel America

Progressive leadership in this city (and across America) has failed. VOTE RED!

rodney carswell

Donald Trump and his GOP enablers are a horror show for civility, democracy and honorable governance. You literally cannot believe a thing they say. Vote Blue!

Orlie Romero

Rodney, cmon man, honorable???

Trump is taking us to a place of freedom again, to think for yourself, respect military and police, drain the swamp of corrupt politicians, makes the economy strong, the man is a beast, I love the guy. To vote Biden is voting for corruption and a country of trash thinking morons. Pull your head out people, you have been lead down a path of lies.

Take mask off, lock up rioters, support Trump and be a Man again!

Lupe Molina

And this is all very sad but ultimately an inanimate object that can be replaced. I wish we'd see this kind of hand-wringing and despair about the state of housing and schools.

Khal Spencer

If these so-called activists wanted to make a real difference, they would be working to improve the state of our housing and schools. But its far easier to bust up the furniture and pat themselves on the hind end for a job well done.

David Romero

They will be the first ones to complain about their station in life and the last ones to do anything about it.

Mary Jane

Exactly. If only these "activists" would stand up for the disadvantaged schoolchildren in our state who will fall behind in their studies due to inadequate resources. Tearing down concrete is easier than putting in the hard work of improving K-12 education in this state.

David Fleming

Abject failure of leadership on the mayors part .No attempt whatsoever at conflict resolution. Whatever happened to mediation? Something groundbreaking and healing could have come from this situation. Now we'll never know what kind of creativity could have been applied to this situation. All we have left is a pile of dust and a polarized town. I'm prouder than ever of my vote for Kate Noble.

Emily Hartigan

I was there yesterday morning, and was shocked that they would choose Indigenous People's Day to dismantle the signs that the Indigenous had made. The very polite cops said they were taking it all down, to erect a 20' high replacement. The timing is OBVIOUS and the Mayor should resign. Such blazing hypocrisy, which created the inevitable, rather than forestalled any violence. The four plaques could have been replaced instead of the protesters' being baited.

David Romero

He shouldn't have been voted in the first place. I understand Sant Fe is a blue town but the Dems couldn't come up with someone better than that?

Samuel Herrera

The Mayor, the Police Chief, and the City Attorney should resign.

Donato Velasco

its the end results of things to come as politicians give fuel to the socialist agenda, now get ready to pay the consequences of another conquest ..

Mike Johnson

Violent mobs of thugs cannot succeed in roaming the streets and destroying property unless the government officials stop the police from doing their jobs of protecting life and property. All these officials are cowards and should be removed from office immediately.

David Romero

This is the reason firearm sales have gone up 400% in the last year.

BOB SCHWARTZ

next, go to city hall and destroy that and see if the police respond i mean what a joke they should have called the SWAT team with their millions in military equipment Webber bemoaning, yeah just more double talk, one day he bemoans and the next day he is encouraging this type of activity

Leesa Vigil

Mayor Webber failed.

Jim Clark

My ancestors tore down a statue of King George III and melted it down to make bullets. It was illegal, the whole American Revolution was illegal. Almost everything we have accomplished for the good of the people has involved civil disobedience. Monuments that glorify the subjugation of people should all be destroyed. Monuments are not history, however this monument became part of a movement to stop the glorification of evil by inanimate objects. Instead, let’s invest our efforts in helping to save the planet and thus our children. I shouldn’t matter, but I speak as a veteran and a history teacher of 27 years.

Richard Reinders

The difference is the revolution was done for a reason, what is going on now is done by a bunch of bored people with to much time on their hands with no clear objective.

Mike Johnson

Perhaps you forgot 3 sides of this monument commemorate the brave Union soldiers who freed the slaves and kept NM from being a slave state. Or maybe you think that is not worth commemorating, some history teacher you are, and as a veteran, I object to violent mobs destroying public property that commemorates veterans who fought for justice, as this one does.

Stefanie Beninato

War is an outright revolt with no turning back and no civility or discourse. Civil disobedience is sitting at lunch counters that are forbidden to you, is occupying Sproul Hall to protest the university''s policies against free speech, chaining yourself to monuments, trees etc. Destruction of property is vandalism and by whom? People from Oklahoma and Chihuahua? Great.. If these vandals really wanted to destroy the structures where pueblo remains were found--go to the Convention Center and S Miguel mission--that is where those sites are.

Samuel Herrera

Go back to Europe.

Khal Spencer

Bingo. Tore down a statue to make bullets for a shooting war. I suppose you realize, since you are a history teacher, that when mobs run the street and tear down symbolic stuff like the obelisk, we may be headed to more violence rather than conflict resolution?

I don't recall the great civil rights leaders of the sixties resorting to mob violence, but maybe I missed something. Probably not.

David Romero

To forget history is a recipe to repeat it.

Orlie Romero

So Jim, as you state your a teacher and monuments don’t stand as a reminder, should all books and internet be burned and shut down as well? If so how would you have ever learned about your great ancestor King George. Dang, people are naive.

Ezekiel America

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber should be removed from office. He “fiddled while Rome burned”. Elected “so called leaders” should be held liable for incompetence and the cost replacement of the memorial should come out of his pocket. Vote RED in November. That will stop the BS.

rodney carswell

I agreed with your post until the last 2 short sentences--Have you not noticed that Trump is the king of BS (since 2016 over 20,000 lies and counting)? The Michigan so called "militia" who plotted to kidnap and put on trial the elected governor felt they had Trump's blessing; how's that for BS, or CHAOS? Trump holds maskless events in close quarters during the time of pandemic, spreading infection to who knows how many others (we will never know, because surprise, surprise--no contact tracing!). Have you not noticed that the GOP is unprincipled and soulless, the party of "forget the rule of laws and norms, whatever I say are the rules, are in fact the rules, so shut up and sit down"? I mean, talk about not seeing the forest for the trees; and the Santa Fe politicians in question, who indeed should pay a price for their collective fecklessness, are not even on the ballot in Nov. So save America and rejoin the free world vote Blue for the future of the planet.

Ezekiel America

Good afternoon Rodney. President Trump is the most transparent president in our history. He has done everything he has promised to do when he was a candidate. Lower taxes, unleashing American business by removal of unnecessary regulations, built a wall just as big as is around Pelosi’s mansion, void draconian trade and climate agreements, create the world’s best economy, ended endless wars, destroyed ISIS, criminal justice reform making our legal system fair to all Americans. The list is filled with swamp destroying accomplishments. And what accomplishments of the democrats? Russian collusion hoax, spying on a political campaign, weaponized and denatured CIA and FBI, impeachment hoax, COVID19 misinformation and destruction of the world’s greatest economy. Please Rodney, name one progressive accomplishment in 3.5 years. I dare you-I double dare you.

rodney carswell

Zeke, So you want me to name Dem accomplishments during Trump and McConnell control WH and Senate...now, you're asking me to spar with my hands shackled. But, what if I don't fall for your time trap and instead compare apples to apples: during Obama's first term as I recall--digging USA out of Bush/Cheney financial collapse, Obamacare, saving the Detroit Auto industry complex, getting US out of Iraq, drawing down Afghanistan presence. How's that...and all without scandal and indictments. Trump's promises?: did you benefit from tax cuts (I did not); business rebound began under Obama and Trump glided by on it (Google comparison of jobs/economy under Obama vs Trump); the "wall" is a joke (how many miles complete and who paid for it? not Mexico)...oh, and how about those family separations with children in cages (how Christian of y'all); being a science denier, you and Trump don't believe in the need to address climate change or the pandemic (hoax?); we will see about criminal justice reform (isn't Jared in charge...?) The swamp? really you are going to brag on that? His is the most corrupt admin in recent memory; I guess you missed that; and all those family members working for daddy on our dime. Nepotism, conflict of interest, tax avoidance, bankruptcy, 7 close advisors criminally charged, many more had to resign.

The Russian "hoax" is real my friend. Trump kisses Putin's you-know-what and hasn't met a dictator he does not have a crush on. And in your list you should not forget Trump's constant war on the other half of America and his support for white supremacy...maybe that is why you hide here behind a pseudonym Mr. America.

My base question for you is: how do you process/excuse all the lying? I mean it's epic; has there been a bigger more prolific liar anywhere in the last 100 years? Is that OK with you; do you hang out with liars? Really, I want to know, how does a Trump voter processes that? Cuz, it is mind boggling to me.

Anita McGinnis

[thumbup][thumbup]

Orlie Romero

Rodney, your lost in cnn dude! Trump is almost heaven sent, yes he’s crude but man up. I want my America to be around, heck even Europe and Australia live the guy, he is a beast! Trump is returning us back to a free society, shown us fake media and corrupt Democrats who did nothing but steal and spy. Not 1 point you brought up is from Trump but cnn telling you it’s all Trump yet here you sit in a Democrat run state going down in flames wearing a useless mask, WAKE UP

Richard Reinders

I agree Ezekiel, I am a registered Democrat but my party doesn't exist any more it has been hijacked by the progressive party so I will vote Republican down the line until the Conservatives Democrats take their party back. Conservative Democrats would not allow this nonsense to go on they stood for Law and Order.

Ezekiel America

God bless you and your family Richard. Thank you.

Stefanie Beninato

Start a recall petition instead of calling for his removal. You know--action--not words.It was done for Debbie Jaramillo.

Andrew Lucero

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

David Brown

👍

Mark Stahl

Trump is already president. How does his re-election “stop the BS”?

David Romero

The mayor is a weak sister.

Khal Spencer

For a reporter to call these vandals "activists" is an insult to every citizen who has ever worked to improve the conditions under which we live in a democracy. Somehow I think the New Mexican has lost its marbles in condoning this violence by offering a shred of respect to these children.

Yes, history is not written the way we like it. That said, trashing monuments doesn't bring us together and based on the comments in today's paper, the political environment in this city has gotten ugly.

This scenerio should have been an obvious concern. Why we did not act sooner to secure the area is a good question. And no, this is not a failure on all of our part since the vast majority of us in Santa Fe were neither consulted nor able to lift a finger to stop this.

Whole thing is pretty depressing. Frankly, I think the thing should be rebuilt.

Leesa Vigil

Agree. These aren't activists. This was vandalism.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup] They are violent thugs, practicing mob rule, activists they are NOT! This reporter is clueless and most likely may have approved of all this.

Paul Davis

I suspect it would be quite hilarious to read what y'all would have been writing to the local paper had you been around as the US revolution started. "OMG, these violent thugs, practising mob rule, activists they are NOT!" I suspect there might have been additions like "they will NEVER speak for me!" and "the reporter is an insurrectionist rebel who has insufficient gratitude for the benevolence and munificence of his king!"

I'm not thrilled about the way the obelisk was torn down. But the whining about it from people who appear to either not care about or not know about the grievances of those who did this is even worse.

Mike Johnson

The ignorance and stupidity of comparing these violent thugs, who seek only to destroy and not to build anything, to our brave ancestors who revolted against rule by a king to establish a democracy of, by, and for the people is beyond astonishing.......

Khal Spencer

I am astonished you would make that comparison. Unlike 1775, everyone in this city has access to local elected government. No kings here. Everyone knew there was a process being developed to deal with statues. Perhaps a minor issue such as a worldwide pandemic and its disruptive effect on city and state government slowed it down. There is no rule from across the Atlantic or "taxation without representation". In other words, your comparison is a straw man that will blow away in a faint breeze.

To say some of us are not thrilled is quite an understatement. If you want street mobs deciding these things, this was the way to go. We don't need no local government. Just show up with the biggest mob.

Finally, the grievances are historical grudges, not actual problems one has to live with when one gets up in the morning. I doubt those people are actually under the oppressive thumb of an obelisk. Send me something about people working for a sub livable wage, who don't have Internet access for their kids during a pandemic, not enough food to eat or a roof over their head, or someone disinfranchised in New Mexico because our government willfully denies them the right to vote. Go ahead, I'm waiting.

These were spoiled wokesters looking for an easy win but without anything meaningful having been won. Except, of course, enmity.

Orlie Romero

Paul, by reading your comments you sound more like a mask wearing hiding coward than a man fighter? It’s funny listening to liberals yet they hide at any real violence or show of strength. The revolution was a war of men fighting for freedom not a bunch of white people yelling BLM or pulling a monument down with a rope because they don’t work and have too much time to act out

John Haynes

The mob simply did what the mayor failed to do in June when he ordered city employees to remove the obelisk without consulting the city council, without any public hearing, and literally in the dark of the night. He should resign.

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