Three Santa Feans arrested shortly after participating in a demonstration against President-elect Donald Trump are set for release today after supporters raised enough cash to bail them out.
Prosecutors charged Sergio Muterperl, 30, with aggravated assault on a police officer, a felony carrying up to 18 months in jail. Judge Donna Bevacqua-Young set his bond at $2,500.
Travis Barnes, 20, faces misdemeanor charges for assault on a police officer and possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. His bond was set at $2,000. Both protesters, along with a third man, 18-year-old Morgan Cook, received charges of blocking a roadway and resisting arrest. The judge ruled that Cook be released on unsecured bond.
The arrests happened shortly after a peaceful march on Saturday afternoon that
started on the Plaza and included parts of Cerrillos Road, Marcy Street and
Paseo de Peralta. SFR estimated about 200 people participated, while a police
report puts that number at 400.
Police approached Muterperl as the crowd started dispersing
from the Plaza, according to a police report and his attorney, Mariel Nanasi.
The criminal complaint says all three protesters fled from the police, towards
the Plaza Arcade on San Francisco Street, but does not state why they were
The police version of events alleges that Santa Fe police officer Alejandro Arroyo tried to grab Muterperl in the building, but got pulled down a staircase after the protester tried to escape his grasp. Arroyo said in court that he injured his right shoulder in the scuffle.
Muterperl disputes this version of events, according to Nanasi, who attended
the march and volunteered to take him on as a client when she saw police
approach him [See video below]. She says her client is a victim of “targeted
prosecution,” claiming police singled out Muterperl for organizing the march.
“I was literally talking with Sergio, and one of the police officers said, ‘Let’s get him.’ Then officers ambushed him,” says Nanasi, a civil rights attorney also known for her role as the founder of New Energy Economy.
The afternoon march followed rallies at the Plaza and outside the capitol. Muterperl told SFR on Saturday that no one planned to walk the streets of Santa Fe that day, but organizers from One Billion Rising and the internet activism collective Anonymous expressed interest in marching.With a crowd gathered at the Plaza, Muterperl called for the rally to move to the streets. Protesters followed him onto the road, where they blocked occasional traffic. SFR spoke with some participants who saw the impromptu parade and passing by and decided to join. Police cruisers followed behind, flashing lights and blaring sirens. Police also attempted to barricade intersections with cars, but protesters walked around the barriers and continued marching.
Muterperl was in the news earlier this summer when, as an Atalaya Elementary School teacher, he was charged with two counts of child molestation, but his case was dismissed. He has always maintained his innocence. An outspoken advocate, Muterperl was also forcibly removed from a Trump rally in Albuquerque.
Jeffrey Haas, the attorney for Cook and Barnes, says the two defendants both work at Rock n’ Roller skating rink.
Haas, who attended the rally, says the police displayed unnecessary aggression during the protest.
“It was almost like they were angry and needed to find scapegoats,” he says,
referring to his clients as the scapegoats.
Santa Fe Police spokesman Greg Gurulé says Muterperl "was recognized as one of the people inciting the large group of people to create problems in the street that could be a potential danger to other citizens." He added that officers were probably recording with body cameras during the incident and that footage would be made available when ready.
Moments before Muterperl’s arrest, he told the Plaza crowd that he feared police would target him as the protest’s organizer.
Supporters raised about $600 to allow Muterperl and Barnes to contract with bail bondsmen. Nanasi says the men will likely be released later this evening.