Officials give updates after protesters topple obelisk monument

New Mexico News

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Mayor and Police Chief of Santa Fe are addressing the protest that brought down the obelisk in the plaza, focusing on what led up to the violence and how to best move forward.

“Yesterday’s events have obviously changed the timetable and created a even deeper sense of urgency and immediacy and heightened the choice we have to make as a community,” said Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber.

Ahead of Tuesday’s late afternoon press conference, some city councilors suggested that the mayor didn’t deal with the controversial obelisk quickly enough.

“Maybe what we’ve learned from this, and Mayor, what you’ve learned from this is that we not delay because you’ve made a decision about things, decision by indecision, and frankly, I’m not sure our position now is harder to repair than it would’ve been had we at least gone forward,” said City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler.

Vigil Coppler and other councilors who felt the mayor didn’t act fast enough are referring to Mayor Webber’s Emergency Proclamation issued in June, which in part, called for the removal of the obelisk from the Plaza. The Civil War-era obelisk was built in 1866 to honor Union soldiers who died fighting Native Americans.

Webber responded to the criticism by saying he has been working on a plan for months, by reaching out to community leaders for ideas on how to best bridge the growing divide. However, it was just Tuesday afternoon that Webber announced that city leaders will now be working on creating a resolution to address the conflicts.

Webber plans on introducing the resolution at Wednesday night’s scheduled city council meeting, and if it goes according to plan, the resolution would start moving through committees.

“Each of those committees will have the chance to craft the resolution as it goes forward. So, we begin with a unified voice as a governing body about how to come together to address and heal these deep and historical wounds and injuries,” said Webber.

Some city councilors also wanted to know why the police didn’t stop the destruction.

A three-day protest was planned leading up to Monday’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Mayor Webber says police asked the original protestors to pack up Sunday night and they did so, peacefully.

However, tensions rose Monday with police and protestors clashing before it appears officer withdrew from the area. Some of the protestors then took down the obelisk.

Tuesday, the police chief addressed that criticism and said he believes there was a small group at the protest that was set on tearing the monument down. He adds if they knew that was the plan they would’ve had double the officers there.

“The supervisors that were on scene, they contacted the on-duty supervisor commander, that commander made that decision to pull out of the Plaza and not to go interact with anyone else, unless someone’s life was in danger, at this time, it was preservation over life, over property; I stand by that commander’s decision and that is the right decision,” said Chief Andrew Padilla of SFPD.

Mayor Webber has not addressed what’s to come for a remaining controversial obelisk honoring Kit Carson, that sits on federal property outside the federal courthouse in Santa Fe.

Webber’s June proclamation also called for its removal. SFPD has arrested two people both facing charges for resisting an officer, among other things. They’re trying to identify the protesters who toppled the obelisk.

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