The only two Indigenous women charged in the destruction of the obelisk on the Plaza Oct. 12, mother and daughter Melissa Rose and Lauren Straily, filed into the Santa Fe County Magistrate court Tuesday morning to face a handful of felony and misdemeanor charges.
Judge John Rysanek allowed the women to stay out of jail on their own recognizance. Rose and Straily have arraignments scheduled for Dec. 11, where they'll face charges of criminal damage to property (over $1,000), conspiracy to commit criminal damage, unlawful assembly, criminal trespass, resisting, evading or obstructing an officer and unauthorized graffiti (over $1,000) in relation to the destruction and painting of the obelisk on Indigenous Peoples Day.
Rysanek allowed the women's addresses to be kept private at their lawyers' requests because they have allegedly received threats.
Rose's lawyer Jeffrey Haas and Straily's lawyer Larry Kronen released a joint statement before their clients' court appearances and declined to give any more comments regarding the cases. The lawyers' statement points an accusatory finger at the city of Santa Fe, blaming the local government's failures at removing the obelisk or at least starting a dialogue about its removal before Oct. 12. The statement also says that the Santa Fe Police Department has made "scapegoats" out of the six people charged so far in relation to the incident.
"After the obelisk fell on Indigenous People's Day, the City responded to pressure and criticism of the removal by needlessly expending City resources to publicize a criminal investigation and file these inflated felony criminal charges," the emailed statement reads. "The City is now using these defendants – including two Indigenous women – as scapegoats to obscure their failed promise to remove the Obelisk, and the police are attempting to chill political activism in Santa Fe by publicly releasing ominous press statements along with the personal photos and information of the defendants who now face threats in their community. The investigation, harassment, and repression of Santa Fe activists must stop, and these unjustified charges should be dismissed."
SFPD charged downtown gallery owner Stephen Fox three days ago with crimes related to the destruction of the obelisk. Fox admitted his involvement and also blamed the current city government for not following through on its promise to remove the monument.
"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 told SFR. "Once it was clear the mayor wanted the obelisk to go, I felt no trepidation when someone handed me the rope."
Three others, including Ryan Wiitt, Lily Schweitzer and local tattoo artist Dawn Furlong have also been charged with felonies and misdemeanors related to Oct. 12. Sean Sunderland and Dylan Wrobel were arrested the day of the incident and posted bond. All have court appearances slated for December and January.