SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – After more than 150 years in the Santa Fe Plaza, Monday night a controversial monument no longer stands; It comes after three days of protests. Two men were arrested in connection to the toppling of the obelisk.
The two men arrested were Sean Sunderland, 24, who is charged with resisting and criminal trespass, and Dylan Wrobel, 27, who is charged with battery on a peace officer and resisting an officer. Monday night, Mayor Alan Webber condemned the incident in the Plaza saying “there is no place for people taking the law into their own hands and there is no place for people destroying historic monuments on their own.”
City workers were constructing a barrier around it Monday to protect it but protestors managed to wrap ropes around it and rip it down. Video from the Santa Fe New Mexican shows no police on-site as protestors took over.
Witnesses told the New Mexican that police were there earlier in the day to forcibly remove demonstrators who were laying on the monument but they left. This comes after a three-day occupation at the Plaza with protestors angry that this obelisk was still standing.
It was erected in 1866 to honor Civil War-era soldiers who died in battle and has been criticized for being oppressive to Native Americans. Earlier this year, Mayor Webber ordered the obelisk removed, it was too heavy, so only the plaque was removed.
The mayor promised further discussion on its future. Monday on Indigenous People’s Day, these protestors supporting Native Americans took drastic measures. Some people applaud the move, others are angry.
“I am for the Native Americans and for their rights. And I’ve represented the Navajos in many ways too,” said protestor Lisa Law.
“I think it’s terrible, I think it’s terrible, I mean you’re destroying beauty,” said Elmer Vamhrm, who is opposed to the protesting.
Monday, it took about 40 people almost 20 minutes to pull down the obelisk with chains and ropes but there were tense moments on the Plaza with both sides of the debate arguing. City crews removed what was left of the obelisk.
“It seemed to be a dichotomy of history that didn’t make sense with Santa Fe,” said Ray Valdez of Santa Fe.
There has also been a very active group in Santa Fe fighting to keep monuments such as this. They argue many are part of our history and it’s a disservice to the Spanish people to remove such monuments. There have been several counter-protests at sites like the Oñate and De Vargas statues.
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