Obelisk Charges Toppled

All but one defendant comes to agreement, essentially ending prosecution of those who tore down the Plaza monument

The First Judicial District Attorney’s Office has come to a resolution for all but one of the original nine defendants facing felony charges from the tearing down of the Plaza obelisk on Oct. 12—Indigenous Peoples Day—last year.

In essence, most of the remaining defendants accepted deals under which the charges will be dropped through a “pre-prosecution diversion program” that includes community service and yet-undefined restitution based on “restorative justice principles,” according to a news release from City Hall announcing the move this afternoon.

The announcement comes just hours after the Union Protectíva fraternal order released a statement demanding more transparency from Mayor Alan Webber and the DA’s Office about where the cases stood.

Chief Deputy DA Jennifer Padgett tells SFR the wheels were already in motion well before that.

Padgett says what that restorative justice looks like is unclear just yet.

“This was a very highly emotionally-charged event, and we recognized that from the get-go,” she says. “We have been looking for a way to begin community healing, and we thought that this process where harmed parties—that’s the police, city workers, Union Protectíva, community members—can be involved in this.”

“What we thought needed to happen to start reconciliation is that people from all walks of life sit down and talk,” adds District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. “That is part of the nebulous idea of restorative justice—dealing with this issue in the criminal justice system is using a hammer where a scalpel is needed.”

To start the reconciliation process, Padgett says the DA’s office brought on Santa Fe-based Common Ground Mediation Services with $1,500 in seed money. The defendants have agreed to foot the rest of the bill, though that total will likely not be known until a more formal process is identified.

The one defendant who has not agreed to terms is local gallerist Stephen A. Fox who, according to Padgett, has not retained counsel which, she says, “is making his participation pretty difficult.”

Fox was offered a place within the resolution, but reportedly turned it down. SFR attempted to contact Fox but did not hear back.

The city’s news release notes that Webber and the Santa Fe Police Department were on board with the agreement reached between prosecutors and the defendants.

This is a developing story and will be updated as SFR obtains more information.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.