SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

Abrupt Ending

Body camera video cuts before officer fires shots at schizophrenic man

Local NewsThursday, July 27, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

Fifteen minutes before he fired 16 shots at Anthony Benavidez, Santa Fe Police Officer Jeremy Bisagna sits in the back of a SWAT team vehicle preparing for confrontation. He loads canisters of liquid pepper spray into a launcher, holding each canister up to his body-worn camera and announcing “OC liquid.” 

Officers around Bisagna discuss the mental condition of Benavidez, a schizophrenic man holed up in a first-floor unit at the Tuscany at St. Francis Apartments. A few minutes later, Bisagna exits the vehicle, and explains to a SWAT colleague that Benavidez had thrown a duct-taped device out of the first floor window and stabbed a social worker.

A plan begins to formulate: Bisagna recommends plowing into the apartment with an armored vehicle to take Benavidez into custody. Several officers weigh in. It’s all captured on the 10-year SFPD veteran’s camera.

The other officers choose a different tack; they’ll smash out a window at the side of the apartment and arrest Benavidez, 24, that way.  

“So you’re comfortable with hitting it, knowing he had that window?” Bisagna says.

Then his hand reaches up toward the camera. The video ends.

Four minutes later, Bisagna empties the magazine from his handgun into the apartment, video from another officer’s camera shows. Still another video from the chaotic scene shows Benavidez’ lifeless body on the apartment’s floor moments after the shots rang out in rapid succession.

Someone announces that Benavidez had been holding a knife.

Meanwhile, Officer Luke Wakefield announces that he fired a round at Benavidez, too, the videos show. His camera was turned on during the shooting and, while it shows his finger on the trigger of his rifle, it does not show what Benavidez was doing in the moments before or during the shooting.

That Bisagna’s camera went dark in the minutes before the shooting raises a host of policy and legal questions. Body cameras have emerged as a key component in a growing police-reform movement in New Mexico and around the nation, with those pushing for change in the way police use force against citizens saying they provide an independent, unbiased lens on incidents such as deadly force encounters.

Last year, SFPD mandated that all officers wear cameras and record all interactions.

Phone calls to Bisagna and attorney John D’Amato, who represents the Santa Fe police union, were not returned by publication time. The department declined to make Bisagna available for an interview, citing the ongoing investigation.

How Bisagna’s camera shut down—and why—will be part of an investigation by the SFPD internal affairs division, Deputy Chief Mario Salbidrez confirms to SFR. He adds that the department has provided all the video taken from the encounter with Benavidez to SFR; there is no additional video from Bisagna’s camera.

Salbidrez says all elements of the shooting are under investigation, as is standard procedure in any police shooting.

That probe’s aim will be to determine whether Bisagna violated any SFPD policies in the run-up to the shooting or by pulling the trigger when he shouldn’t have.

A likely first stop for investigators: the department’s body-worn camera policy.

It states that all officers “shall activate [body-worn cameras] as soon as practical” when responding to a call for service or while interacting with a member of the public for encounters such as arrests, pursuits and interrogations. Officers’ cameras “shall remain activated” in most instances until police cease contact with an individual or clear a scene. And officers are directed to announce they are terminating a recording prior to doing so, the policy says.

Bisagna made no such announcement.

For tactical teams such as SWAT, officers are permitted to turn off their body-worn cameras as they develop arrest plans and make other decisions in order to conserve battery life. But the policy states the cameras “shall be activated during directed action.”

Bisagna’s camera did not capture the shots he fired. But it rolled for more than 11 minutes as he loaded the pepper spray launcher, slung a rifle over his shoulder and discussed in detail various versions of a take-down plan.

At one point, Bisagna asked the scene commander, Lt. Ben Valdez, whether a “yard bang” might win the SWAT team more success in arresting Benavidez.

“Should we do some type of yard response here?” Bisagna asks Valdez. “A yard bang, ‘cause he did this and we haven’t done a response yet.”

Ultimately, the team decided to approach the apartment’s side window. 

Video from Sgt. Nick Wood’s camera begins about three minutes after Bisagna’s shuts down, according to timestamps from the two cameras. It shows Bisagna, holding a shield, positioned at the front of the team that approached Benavidez’ apartment. 

The small team of officers rush the window, Wood’s video shows. Wood smashes out the window with a large metal rod. Officers scream at Benavidez to show them his hands. Bisagna fires 16 shots in rapid succession. It is not clear when Wakefield fires his lone shot.

Neither Santa Fe police nor New Mexico State Police, which is investigating the shooting for possible criminal charges, have confirmed whether Bisagna’s or Wakefield’s bullets killed Benavidez. But Santa Fe police told SFR earlier this week that the incident marked the first time that somebody had been injured or killed as a result of force by the SWAT team since its inception in the 1970s.

The Space Between the Notes

NMAL’s Heisenberg isn’t what we expected, and that’s fine

Acting OutThursday, July 27, 2017 by Charlotte Jusinski

When we spoke to director Robert Benedetti about Heisenberg a few weeks ago, he said that among the reasons he chose the show was that it was light-hearted. He wanted to balance out the heaviness of his last show, Quality of Life, and end the New Mexico Actors Lab season on a buoyant note. Imagine SFR’s surprise, then, when—despite many hearty laughs—we were left deeply unsettled by Heisenberg. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly not what we were expecting.

Heisenberg follows Georgie, a 42-year-old American woman living in London, as she relentlessly and amorously pursues Alex, a 75-year-old native Londoner. Georgie, here played by an appropriately awkward Debrianna Mansini, is a quintessential American hot mess with more than a smattering of sociopathic tendencies. Alex, brought to life by Jonathan Richards, is a butcher in the twilight of his life, living an existence of quiet desperation. Until Georgie shows up, that is. Then that desperation gets a little louder.

The descriptions we’d read of this show were that it was about an intergenerational relationship. Of course, “relationship” is a malleable term, but we were ready to see a story about two people who were established in their love for each other, working life out bit by bit. What we got instead was an explosion of a brand-new courtship (by the end of the play, the two have only known each other six weeks) and a long, hard look at who deserves love, and how much love they should then be allotted.

While the word-vomit-prone Georgie dominates the script (in the first two-thirds of the play she probably has 85 percent of the lines) and could get viewers uncomfortable enough to feign a bathroom break, it is Alex’s calm demeanor that keeps the audience in their seats. Richards, as Alex, is truly fantastic. His face is kind and patient, and his matter-of-fact tone is perfect for the blue-collar butcher as he is romantically accosted by a woman nearly half his age.

Mansini’s Georgie is insufferable and exhausting. And we don’t mean that as a criticism—that is precisely how she is written—though we do, as the play progresses, wonder a bit what Alex could possibly see in her; a woman who admits to compulsively lying and overshares until we cringe. Still, Georgie’s Julia Roberts-level smile lights up the stage, and when she finally gets Alex to open up about himself, she actually shuts up and listens for once.

In the beginning, we suspect Georgie is projecting supposedly fascinating qualities onto Alex. Until he really blossoms in the third scene, each of the characters are equally unappealing (Georgie because she won’t shut up, Alex because he won’t talk). Alex has no interest in discussing esoteric things (on feelings: “I feel my clothes. I feel the wind on my face. I don’t feel. I fucking think.”) and Georgie, while awkward and sometimes lacking confidence, also fancies her flaws charming (she actually does blurt out, “Do you find me exhausting but captivating?”—Alex simply stares at her in response).

As the show moves, however, the projection flips. Georgie seems completely shocked when, at dinner, she learns that Alex is indeed as interesting as she wants him to be. We suspect, by the end, that Alex is projecting his kindness and genuine goodness onto an undeserving Georgie.

There’s an illuminating confession from Georgie in the fourth scene that took us by absolute surprise, so it’s hard to discuss the intricacies of the couple’s later interactions without rampant spoilers, but we are indeed left feeling pity for both characters. They each so badly want the other to be what they need, and we aren’t sure, in the end, whether or not they get what they want.

While having a post-coital listen to Bach on vinyl, Alex tells Georgie: “Music doesn’t exist in the notes. It exists in the space between the notes.” It’s a lesson we think the character of Georgie could bear to learn (read: shut the fuck up already), and one that Alex could bear to forget (read: speak up already).

The play, written by Simon Stephens, is fresh off Broadway (Benedetti told us he essentially badgered the rights-holders until he got permission to put it on). The intricacies of the dance between these characters, both in wordplay and in a literal tango, will undoubtedly mark this show as a classic to be performed for many years, and tangential references to scientific principles will keep even the particle physicists entertained. (A personal preference made this writer recoil a bit at the very end, but perhaps some folks just have a strong aversion to sentimentality.)

In the end, we don’t know if either Georgie or Alex got what they were looking for—but we certainly did. We left unnerved, thoughtful and just a little bit sad; and isn’t that the point of the theater?


7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday July 27-29;
2 pm Sunday July 30. $15-$25. Teatro Paraguas,
3205 Calle Marie, 424-1601; tickets at

The Fork

Eat Eat Bang Bang

The ForkThursday, July 27, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Happy Best of Santa Fe 2017!

Let's FORK!

Last week I mentioned that it seems that the food truck trend sort of fizzled out before starting here in Santa Fe. And I still stand by this. Food trucks in Santa Fe aren't really doing the truck part of the equation. They tend to find a vacant lot and sit there. Always. Which, I guess works. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

But, you CAN find those motionless trucks in a few spots: a rotating crew at Meow Wolf that includes Trinity Kitchen; that weird vacant lot at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail; the always good Bonsai Asian Taco just north of the St Francis/Alto stop light. And if you're feeling adventurous, the amazing Pollo Asado sits nicely in the parking lot between Cheeks and Arcade News at 2864 Cerrillos Road.

You can also find Bang Bite, which last week I claimed was MIA (I'm sorry Enrique!), it sits at 492 W Water Street. Open 11:30 am-6:30 pm Monday-Thursday. The hours switch up Friday and Saturday—open for lunch 11:30 am-2:30 pm and then for dinner 5:30-9 pm. Bang Bite is still the best food truck in town, according to SFR readers, though I'd say Trinity Kitchen is not far behind (sorry Enrique).

Did I miss any trucks you love? Any you hate? That you miss? Let me know.

Don't forget about the Santa Fe Farmers Market community picnic on Aug. 11.

The event features locally sourced foods form both vendors and chefs as well as music and games. With both vegetarian and meat-based options, the picnic will be a family-friendly way to celebrate our area's farmers.

Chicken is provided by Pollo Real, burgers by Nambe Orchards, and veggie skewers by DerailedSchwebach Farm is supplying the corn. Intergalactic is bringing the bread. Second Street Brewery will be on hand selling brews and Freezie Fresh has you covered on dessert!

WHEN: 6-8 pm Friday Aug. 11
WHERE: Farmer's Market Pavilion (1607 Paseo de Peralta)
COST: $20 (children 12 and under are free) - Get your tickets HERE

Thank you to the sharp-eyed readers who reached out to me about Bang Bite. Keep me honest!

Have a great week,

What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email

Morning Word: Slow Your Roll

Morning WordThursday, July 27, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Santa Fe taps brakes on return of speed SUVs
Big brother isn't watching. Yet. The Santa Fe City Council voted to postpone for a month a proposal to bring back unmanned speeding ticket-issuing SUVs that had been snapping pics of drivers and automatically mailing out tickets from 2008-2013. The program had been paying for most, if not all, of its cost, but it scratched many people the wrong way—and not just those caught speeding.

Meow! Arts installation wolfs down $1.1 million public grant
Half a million people have wandered their way through Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return exhibit. Now, as the arts collective gets set to expand to Denver, Austin and potentially other cities that are nearly as cool as Santa Fe, it has more than $1 million from private investors and public economic development grants to help it along. The Santa Fe City Council unanimously approved its chunk of a $1.1 million state/city grant last night. Meow Wolf promises 250 jobs at a new fabrication facility.

Council shelves instant-runoff voting again
City councilors in Santa Fe voted to reconsider their latest action on what's called ranked-choice voting. The system eliminates the need for a runoff campaign, but it's a new way to vote and the majority of councilors—along with the Santa Fe city and county clerks—worried it would be too much to teach voters before the March municipal election. The system has recently become affordable, a key part of a 2008 citywide vote that binds Santa Fe to use ranked-choice voting ... eventually.

Santa Fe SWAT killing is a first
When Santa Fe's tactical police squad shot and killed Anthony Benavidez, who was living with schizophrenia, it was the SWAT team's first fatal shooting in its 40 years of existence. Body camera video from the standoff shows police were aware of Benavidez' mental illness and had dealt with him barricading himself in his apartment before.

SFPD officer's body cam may not have been on during shooting 
As review of the police shooting of Anthony Benavidez continues, it appears the officer who fired the vast majority of shots—16 of 17 by the Albuquerque Journal's count—at the 24-year-old didn't have his body camera recording the interaction, which came after a lengthy standoff. It wasn't among the video provided to the media by the department earlier this week.

'Are we crossing a border?'
Border Patrol agents detained a Southern California middle school teacher and her children on their way through New Mexico after the woman refused to answer citizenship questions at a checkpoint. The checkpoint was within the 100-mile zone along the border allowed for such posts, but the teacher says she protested because she's talked to Latino friends who have been peppered with more than just a single question about citizenship.

State gets good revenue report
New Mexico's revenue jumped 32 percent year-to-year in May, with travel and construction industries leading the way to a $141 million annual increase. That's welcome news at the Capitol, where lawmakers have met three times in the past year to shore up a wobbly state budget. That number is likely to fall, as it's based on projections, but the Legislature and governor will take every last dime they can get.

Supreme Court will decide on public defenders' plea for help
New Mexico's high court is considering the plight of the state's public defenders. Especially in southeastern New Mexico, defenders appointed for people accused of a crime who cannot afford an attorney say their caseloads are so high that they often can't mount an effective defense. That would violate their duty, but not providing a defense would also violate the Constitution. Prosecutors say acquittal numbers are high enough to refute that claim.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that there's a free party Friday night at the Railyard in Santa Fe. It's our annual Best of Santa Fe bash and there's food and libations and happy people! Get some.

Subscribe to the Morning Word at

Morning Word: Shots Fired

Morning WordWednesday, July 26, 2017 by Matt Grubs

SF deputies shoot at/shot at by armed robbery suspect
When Santa Fe County Sheriff's deputies tried to stop a stolen pickup truck yesterday morning, police say the driver fired shots at them and took off, leading to a chase that ended in Algodones—in a hail of gunfire but without anyone getting hit by a bullet. The driver, Lane Reed, is a suspect in armed robberies from Denver to Raton to the Pecos River Station in San Juan, where yesterday's action began. The chase and shooting shut down I-25 and backed up traffic for miles.

Police release body cam video of SF shooting
Santa Fe police have released body camera video of last week's shooting, in which officers fatally wounded 24-year-old Anthony Benavidez. The mentally ill man had stabbed a social worker earlier in the day and the video shows him lobbing what police determined were ineffective homemade bombs at them during a standoff. Police appear to have fired 17 shots during the encounter, 16 of them coming from one tactical officer. 

Secretary of state tweaks campaign regulations
Seeking to pull back the curtain on spending by groups that don't have to disclose their donors, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has suggested new rules requiring dark money groups to reveal their donors if they choose to advertise in a campaign. Several conservative and libertarian groups have opposed the change, arguing it runs counter to federal law and curtails free speech. Toulouse Oliver has since suggested allowing $2,500 in spending before requiring disclosure. 

Zinke expected in New Mexico for monument review
US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is expected to visit New Mexico this week as he reviews the size and scope of two new national monuments. The review, part of a Trump administration look at monuments created by the Obama administration, will take Zinke to Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, as well as to the Rio Grande Del Norte monument near Questa.

Los Alamos teen dies in cliff fall
White Rock Canyon is known for a cave in the canyon wall called Hell's Hole. It's a treacherous climb for hikers, and over the weekend, 19-year-old Trevor Matuszak lost his footing and fell to his death. Rescue crews scrambled to the scene, but the teen succumbed to his injuries before they were able to rappel down to him.

Busy night for SF City Council
Councilors on Wednesday evening will consider a proposal to bring back unmanned speeding ticket-issuing SUVs to the streets of Santa Fe. Police love it because, hey, free tickets (also, it often causes drivers who notice it to slow down). Others hate it, because, hey, do your own work. Also, Meow Wolf is looking to get approval of a $1.1 million economic development grant from the city and state. Councilors could also reconsider using ranked-choice voting in the next city election. All that stuff is on the 7 pm agenda.

Big rains coming
Santa Fe and other parts of Northern New Mexico could see more than an inch of rain by the time the weekend arrives. It looks like we're headed for a stormy weekend, too. But it shouldn't dampen the fun at the Railyard on Friday for the annual Best of Santa Fe party! Come by after work for fun, dunk-tank hijinks and a beer. The Best of Santa Fe issue hits newsstands today.

Thanks for reading! The Word has offered to sit in a dunk tank on Friday and endure endless tauntings.

Subscribe to the Morning Word at

A First

Shooting death of schizophrenic man is the first fatality by SFPD SWAT Team

Local NewsWednesday, July 26, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

Santa Fe police say 24-year-old Anthony Benavidez was the first person to be injured or killed by the the department’s SWAT team since it was formed in the 1970s.

Following an hour-long standoff last Wednesday morning, officers fired at least 15 shots into an apartment where Benavidez, who was living with schizophrenia, had allegedly stabbed a social worker earlier in the day.

SWAT callouts are relatively rare in Santa Fe, according to figures provided to SFR. During the past five years, SWAT has averaged five full deployments each year. And the team has been used, on average, 13 times a year to execute a search or arrest warrant.

Lt. Ben Valdez, who oversees the team and supervised the incident in which Benavidez was killed, writes in an email to SFR that the Santa Fe Police SWAT team is composed of two team leaders and 13 “operators.” The department’s tactical team also features medical services officers, crisis negotiators and explosives experts. All of them except the explosives team receive 40 hours of standard crisis intervention training from the Law Enforcement Academy, plus an additional 40 hours of training from the FBI in basic crisis negotiations.

On Tuesday, the Santa Fe police department released body camera video from more than a dozen officers who went to the apartment where Benavidez had holed up. It does not show what led police to fire at Benavidez in the moments leading up to the shooting, but it does confirm that officers were aware of his mental illness as the incident unfolded.

Uniformed Santa Fe police officers arrived at the Tuscany at St. Francis apartments near the intersection of St. Francis Drive and Siringo Road after a manager reported that Benavidez had broken into a unit from which he’d been evicted the day before. New Mexico state police have said Benavidez then stabbed a social worker at his front door. The worker had accompanied police to help coax him out. After the stabbing, the social worker was treated and released from a hospital.

State police also have said Benavidez threw two “improvised explosive devices” at officers, though neither appears to have detonated. That’s when Santa Fe police sent in the SWAT team. One of the video clips shows officers discussing propane and chemicals such as ammonia and bleach being inside the apartment and wiring along the floor.

Police then chose to break through a back window, but it’s not clear who ordered it. Lt. Valdez did not have his body camera switched on until after the shooting. A team of SWAT officers then moved to the back window. A sergeant shattered it before he and others commanded somebody inside to surrender, the videos show.

Without warning, Officer Jeremy Bisagna, a 10-year veteran of SFPD, fired multiple shots through the window with a handgun. Video does not show where the bullets struck. SFR counted at least 15 total shots. According to state police, Officer Luke Wakefield, who joined SFPD in 2014, also fired his weapon.

Before the shooting, Bisagna’s camera captured another officer stating that a psychiatric nurse at the scene said Benavidez had schizophrenia. His camera goes dark just before officers began approaching the window. It did not capture the shots he fired, and the department did not provide any video from his camera that shows the shots he fired.

Warning: Disturbing content. 

Early in the encounter, uniformed officers tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with Benavidez, the videos show.

“Mr. Benavidez, do the right thing,” one officer says. “We can’t go anywhere. You know that. So you need to come out and talk to us, OK?”

But after the SWAT team arrived, the tone of police communications shifted.

Immediately before and during the shooting, a police voice that is either live or recorded can be heard demanding that Benavidez exit the apartment with his hands up. The message blared from a loudspeaker several times during the standoff.

After the gunfire subsides, SWAT officers ram through the front door and collect Benavidez’ lifeless body.

The shooting—and what led up to it—illustrates one of the most hotly debated topics in American policing: how officers deal with people living with mental illness.

Peter Kraska, a frequently cited scholar of police militarization at Eastern Kentucky University, says Santa Fe’s 40 hours of crisis intervention training—which focuses, among other things, on how to approach a potentially volatile situation involving someone in the middle of a mental health crisis— is typical nationwide, but is not enough.

“One of the reasons why this is becoming such a big issue is not only do you have a lack of training, you have a lot of things that compete against that training,” Kraska tells SFR. “You have to be calm, and of course careful, but you have to de-escalate.”

This past Saturday, the Santa Fe chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness held a public meeting at the Friendship Club for those who wished to discuss the incident.

“Some people asked, ‘Are we going to get to the bottom of what happened?’ [But] it’s not the purpose of the meeting,” says Betty Shover, president of the chapter. “It’s just to be supportive, to gather around each other, because we’re all traumatized and unnerved about these situations when they happen because it hits close to home.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Benavidez' mother, Elizabeth Palma, said her son received a mental health evaluation at Christus St. Vincent Hospital last Tuesday, the day before the shooting, but hospital staff declined to keep him there.

Citing federal privacy laws, St. Vincent would not confirm to SFR whether Benavidez had been a patient there.

A few people at Saturday’s meeting complained about the difficulty in accessing the behavioral health unit at Christus St. Vincent, Shover says. She cites the hospital’s non-participation in a new program in which hospital directors and others can petition a district judge to mandate a person with mental illness submit to outpatient treatment, including medication.

Debbi Honey, chief medical nurse at Christus St. Vincent, tells SFR that people with mental health crises who go to the emergency room meet with a physician and a crisis counselor, who evaluate whether patients are a threat to themselves or others. Sometimes, she says, the hospital helps patients put together an outpatient treatment plan before they’re discharged.

“Patients have rights, we cannot hold someone involuntarily,” says Arturo Delgado, communications director for the hospital. “I think that’s a critical patient right for anybody.”

Benavidez was the second person to be killed by Santa Fe police this year. The first was Andrew Lucero, who was shot and killed on April 29 in Eldorado by Officer Leonardo Guzman. As with the Benavidez shooting, state police headed up the investigation into Lucero’s death.

District Attorney Marco Serna says state police recently handed him investigative files pertaining to the Lucero shooting, which he passed off to the Administrative Office of the District Attorneys for an “independent review.” A panel of five district attorneys is reviewing the evidence gathered by state police. That’s a new practice for Santa Fe prosecutors; it comes after SFR exposed last year the inner workings of a highly unusual and secretive grand jury system that for decades rendered jurors powerless to charge officers criminally for on-duty shootings even if they wanted to.

“We’ll review all the evidence that was collected, look at facts, read witness statements, view any audio and video, and if it’s found in violation of the justified shooting for police statute, a further violation will be looked at,” says San Juan County DA Rick Tedrow, one of the prosecutors on the panel. “If it’s not against the statute, it will probably stop there.”

Asked whether the panelists have discussed convening again for the Benavidez shooting, Tedrow says, “it’s not even on the radar.”



MetroGlyphsWednesday, July 26, 2017 by SFR

Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at

7 Days


7 DaysWednesday, July 26, 2017 by SFR


Yeah, but, like, the bike trails are so pretty…



This might be the most Santa Fe sentence we’ve ever written in our lives.



A dark day for comedy indeed.



Good, because if there’s one thing the opera’s been missing, it’s stories about rich white assholes.



We’re gonna turn into a town free of pornography—IS THAT WHAT YOU PEOPLE WANT?!



You’ll still have to live in Española, though.



Clearly SWAIA isn’t aware of the “We Fear Change” clause in the town charter.

Back to the Barrio: The Dogpatch

Are you old-school Santa?

Art FeaturesWednesday, July 26, 2017 by Alicia Inez Guzmán

Back in 1970, a local group called La Juventud del Barrio del Cristo Rey banded together as young community activists. Their members included local chicanos and chicanas who donned shades and brown berets. For Christmas, they sold farolitos to benefit El Vicio, then a local drug rehabilitation center. The youth group also had plans to build a Chicano library, according to a 1970 clipping from the Santa Fe New Mexican. Members came from different parts of the city, but the parish of Cristo Rey where they were founded was located on Upper Canyon Road. It was the stomping grounds of the Dogpatch.

Eliseo (Cheo) Armijo, a former member La Juventud and retired Qwest technician, spoke of the group’s activities when he described growing up in the Dogpatch. Armijo said the label was around even before he was.

Santa Fe’s own Dogpatch drew from the title of Al Capp’s tongue-in-cheek comic strip, Li’l Abner, based on an invented town in the Appalachian backwoods. Those who lived there—Abner, Daisy Mae, Mammy and Pappy Yokum and the Shmoos—became household names over the course of the comic’s four-decade run. Li’l Abner was even fodder for Broadway and, later, the silver screen in the 1959 movie of the same name, both written by Melvin Frank. “Li’l Abner lived up in the the hills, perched on the edge. Our houses were perched up on the hills, too,” remarked Armijo. He still lives on Upper Canyon Road, overlooking the Santa Fe River in a home that he built with his wife, primos and other family members. They made all the adobes for the two-story structure by hand.

Alicia Inez Guzmán

The Dogpatch roughly covers a triangular stretch in the city’s historic east side, including Acequia Madre, Camino Don Miguel, Camino del Cañon (Canyon Road), Upper Camino del Cañon, Cerro Gordo, Upper (East) Palace Avenue, Apodaca Hill and Camino Cabra. Hillside Avenue (once known as Los Corchos) also falls into this barrio, though it’s difficult to set hard-and-fast boundaries. Former residents of Hillside recall that the arroyo where the road ends was a notorious party spot back in the late 1970s. It could be grittier there than other parts of the east side, according to one woman’s recollections. Even the Dogpatch had pockets.

Despite the differences across the barrio, the response remains the same among those looking back to the days of the Dogpatch: It was a wholly other place in their memories, one where the acequias still provided water to the local apple orchards, entire families lived on the same property for generations and tax bases were humbler. Even during those transitional years before and after the arrival of St. John’s College, there were a lot more young people cruising the streets of the east side—kids and teenagers who used to fight with the “westsiders,” party into the night, or, like the members of La Juventud, organize amongst themselves.

If you aren’t familiar with the Dogpatch, that’s because the name doesn’t see as much use today. It’s becoming something of a throwback. Some former residents chalk this up to generational differences, but changing demographics have had a hand, too. In the late ’90s, many locals had to put historic east-side properties up for sale that had been kept in families for generations due to exorbitant tax hikes. A resident’s tax bill could go up 50 or 100 percent back then and sometimes more, according to Santa Fe County Tax Assessor Gus Martinez. For that reason, the legislature instituted the 3 percent cap rule in 2001 so that locals wouldn’t be faced with the prospect of “selling out.”

Martinez, who calls that area the “heart of Santa Fe,” notes that although the 3 percent cap has been beneficial, there are more people from out of state, or who make Santa Fe their second or part-time home, living on the east side than in the past. And of course, he adds, “those buying and selling set the market.” Even during the 2008 crash, that area of Santa Fe still retained its value. With such expensive land up for sale, “your typical person,” Martinez said, couldn’t afford property in a barrio now considered Santa Fe’s upper end. Many Hispanic families were displaced as a result. And once you sell, Armijo said, “you can never go back.” Now, a house could go for $300,000 in the rest of the city; one in the barrio of yore costs upwards of one million dollars. Driving through the area, it’s hard not to see the number of real estate signs perched along the winding roads.

Given the parallels to Appalachia, Dogpatch is one of those designations that seems self-deprecating at first, a jab at the working class or poor Hispanic residents who once lived there, concocted before the days of political correctness. But when it’s evoked, there’s a sense of community connection, a raza. If you remember the Dogpatch, then you’re old Santa Fe.

Filmmaking Goes Grassroots

Local filmmakers join forces to learn, create and connect through free workshops

Art FeaturesWednesday, July 26, 2017 by Lauren Thompson

After hours at the Santa Fe Business Incubator on July 19, over a dozen local filmmakers sit attentively as guest speaker Steve Allrich flips through a script. Aldrich addresses one of the writers in the room, whose draft he holds in his hand. “Usually, if there’s a sound playing over a visual that’s coming from the next scene, it’s called a ‘pre-lap,’” Allrich says. “That allows filmmakers to know exactly how that sound fits into the story.”

The group, known as Santa Fe Filmmakers, meets once a month for these workshops. As Eric Streeper, its founder, explains, “I started putting talks and workshops on about seven months ago, because there weren’t any active filmmaker groups I could find in town.” Since then, the group, which primarily communicates through the online platform Meetup, has grown to over 200 local filmmakers and creatives, according to its webpage.

At this particular workshop, called First 5, writers received feedback on the first five pages of their script from Allrich, a writer and producer who worked on the 2015 Western drama The Timber. The subject matter varies greatly, from an Afro-badass female spy to a troublemaking elderly duo. Allrich, who one attendee jokes “looks a lot scarier than he actually is,” delivers feedback in a critical but constructive manner. The result is a relaxed environment where writers feel comfortable engaging in conversation with Allrich and with their peers.

This level of camaraderie is the norm for the group. “What I really like is how supportive everybody is,” says script editor and proofreader Diana Thatcher. “For example, this workshop was not what I was expecting—Allrich was really gentle and supported everyone and helped them. I thought he would just rip into them.” Writer Dean Balsamo agrees, saying, “I’ve gone to a number of groups like this, but this is the one that seems to gel.”

It’s encouraging to see such a cohesive, diverse and welcoming group of filmmakers, but it’s not surprising given Streeper’s upbeat personality. He explains with excitement that workshop turnouts have been getting better over the last few months. “Tonight’s turnout was pretty good, but sometimes we’ll have events where almost 30 people show up,” Streeper says with a laugh.

Most events are a good mix of old and new faces, Streeper notes, and Steve Allrich is no exception to this trend. The pair’s relationship began about a month ago over coffee. “I became involved with Santa Fe Filmmakers by just looking up Meetups in Santa Fe, since I was involved in a similar group up in Portland,” Allrich tells SFR. “I found Eric’s name and reached out to him for coffee.”

After a few more caffeine-fueled discussions about film and one lecture, Allrich pitched his idea for a script workshop, which Streeper received enthusiastically. “After I did one of their talks last month about screenwriting, I realized that education is something that I want to get more involved in,” Allrich says. “In a previous life, I was an artist, and I taught art for about 25 years, so I do have an enjoyment of teaching.”

Aside from plans for another script workshop, the group has even more events coming up over the next few weeks. This Thursday, members are scheduled to appear at the Santa Fe Community College for a hands-on workshop. “They’re going to have all kinds of equipment there,” Streeper says, “but it’s all going to be pretty common stuff, so you’ll learn how to really shoot on a budget.”

In August, Santa Fe Filmmakers aims to join forces with other organizations like the New Mexico Film Foundation and New Mexico Women in film for a mixer at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company, which Streeper hopes will be an opportunity for local filmmakers to meet and make plans to collaborate on future projects.

For now, though, members are grateful for the community they’ve built within their ranks. For a group only seven months in the making, they’re proud the member commitment. The potential for growth is promising, Allrich tells SFR. “I’m open for whatever the future holds, however it evolves,” he says. “I’m just enjoying being a part of the community. There’s a lot of interest in film here and screenwriting which is exciting. Santa Fe kind of has the feel of a small town, comparatively speaking, but there’s a lot of interest relative to the city.”

Cinematography for the Cost-Effective Filmmaker
6 pm Thursday July 27. Free.
Santa Fe Community College,
6401 Richards Ave,

New Mexico Filmmixer
Time TBD Tuesday Aug. 8. Free.
The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company,
37 Fire Place,

For updates, visit:

Abrupt Ending

© 2017 Santa Fe Reporter. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WEHAA.COM
Regular Site