Downtown gallery owner Stephen Fox is the latest person to be charged with three crimes related to his alleged involvement in the destruction of the obelisk on Indigenous Peoples Day.
Fox faces charges of criminal damage to property (over $1,000), conspiracy to commit criminal damage and unlawful assembly, according to an announcement Friday from the Santa Fe Police Department sent to the media.
Fox admits he was on the Plaza that day and helped the dozens of other people pull on the towrope that eventually partially toppled the monument, but the 72-year-old says he did not know about the charges until SFR called him. The speeches made by Indigenous activists that day particularly moved him, he says.
"I don't need a lawyer because it all comes from the fact that [Mayor Alan Webber] said that it was time for this obelisk to go," Fox tells SFR. "Once it was clear the mayor wanted the obelisk to go, I felt no trepidation when someone handed me the rope. And I have a long range goal to help create a United Nations branch in Santa Fe and to me, taking the obelisk down was perfectly consistent with UN values."
Fox says he went to the Plaza, just a few blocks from his New Millennium Fine Art Gallery, the night before Indigenous Peoples Day, and was alarmed by the police presence. He likened it to the Middle East.
"The activists were clinging to the obelisk, terrified, and about 30 policemen were there as a show of strength, I suppose, to defend this monument, with an ambulance and two firetrucks," Fox says. "I called the mayor and I said, 'Mayor Webber, this is not you. This is not Santa Fe. This cannot be.'…I know he got my message, which was that Santa Fe is not Iraq, Santa Fe is not Afghanistan. It was the most oppressive display of police presence in the 51 years that I have lived in Santa Fe."
He is the sixth person to be charged with crimes related to Oct. 12 and the pulling down of the monument. None of the six accused have been arrested and the first five have begun trickling into court this week.
Schweitzer and Witt were allowed to stay out of jail on $2,500 unsecured appearance bonds.
Witt and Schweitzer's docket call hearings are scheduled for Dec. 9.
Melissa Rose, 44, and her daughter Lauren Straily, 28, also accused of participating in the destruction of the obelisk, will be arraigned on Nov. 24, according to court dockets.
All six are charged with a mix of felonies and misdemeanors.
SFPD, in conjunction with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, New Mexico State Police and the District Attorney's Office are "continuing to identify individuals who will be facing charges for their involvement in the destruction of the Obelisk," according to the SFPD press release.
SFPD arrested Sean Sunderland, 24, and Dylan Wrobel, 27, the day of the Indigenous Peoples Day event for their alleged involvement in the incidents leading up to the takedown of the obelisk, including tussle with officers. Both were jailed and released on bond.
Sunderland has a pre-trial hearing set for Dec. 7 and Wrobel is scheduled for a preliminary examination on Nov. 24.