Online, June 8:“Santa Fe to Review Use of Force Policies”
Keep the Police
Yes, there is a dire need for transparency and oversight; but cutting the police force is not the answer to our budget deficit. Anyone who has ever worked downtown knows that the police are essential to keeping the peace. The majority of our officers are professional and compassionate. Many of them are forced to take more than the usual risks, due to frequent understaffing issues.
Santa Fe is an international destination and downtown can become quite volatile. Tourists have often reported feeling unsafe, especially at night. Our merchants, hoteliers and restaurateurs have already been hit hard by COVID. To further denigrate the downtown scene by leaving it unsupervised would be a great detriment to an industry that creates jobs and raises a substantial amount of money for the city.
There are other ways to respond to the budget shortfall. At this very moment in our drought-affected state, our priceless lands and water are being compromised to serve the fracking industry. We are destroying our future and the future of our children. Why not cap oil and gas interests and impose a serious interim carbon tax to invest in green jobs and sustainable energy infrastructure, not to mention reparations to those who have been most directly impacted by environmental degradation? It's now or never.
Online, June 8:“Let People Breathe”
No More Liberal Reforms
It's way too late for "reform." The same liberal reforms now being proposed by the Democrats in Congress have been in place all across the country for at least 10 years, during which time police have become more and more militarized. It's now normalized in this country for police to come out with their high tech weaponry and murder and maim people every time anyone other than white supremacists exercise their rights to assemble and criticize the government.
Reforms do not work. They did not work in Minneapolis, they did not work in ABQ, or anywhere else. People of color are not safe from police murder, even in their beds. A police state is not subject to reforms. Police are entirely above the law and they know it. They laugh at reforms.
Defund, disarm and abolish the police, here in Santa Fe, and everywhere in the US. That will be a start.
Online, June 17:“A Shift in the Tide”
Bad Monuments Abound
[Attention, Mayor Alan Webber], I am delighted to learn that the De Vargas statue is gone from the cathedral and about your plan to remove the very phallic obelisk from the Plaza.
Please consider removing another -monument to colonization and Indigenous oppression: the 10 Commandments monument in front of Fire Station #3 on Cerrillos Road. Such action would demonstrate the city's commitment to secular, non-religious rule of law. I brought this to your attention two years ago and you said you wanted the city to be "tolerant." It is clear that you agree there are public symbols that should not be tolerated and we shouldn't need constant public demonstrations to get action on this.
In the name of respect for Indigenous rights and separation of church and state, please put this monument where it belongs, in a museum or a church.
Tool for Thought
Maybe the Plaza isn't the best location for the obelisk, but at least for me I found it powerful. Powerful that the original inscription had been altered (corrected) years before by an unknown hand and that the city left the alteration.
While the Plaza area has been -"prettifyfied" to help the important tourist economy (it really is pretty—not a bad thing), the obelisk is a stark reminder of how attitudes have changed and continue to change and should change. Its central location serves to challenge us to re-evaluate our own prejudices.
Don’t call them racist
Leah Cantor jumps right in, labeling historic statues "racist." As a former reporter, I think it's time for the Fourth Estate to chill, stop advocating and instead serve your obligations to journalism and to the people of New Mexico. We already get way too much biased—by all definitions—reporting from now-deregulated, mostly monopoly controlled "big media," without getting it from the last bastions of what should be responsible, objective journalism: small, locally owned papers.
As is, the only ones being allowed input, during our current "cultural cleansing"—vaguely reminiscent of China's Cultural Revolution or the rise of fascism in Europe—are those who scream, vandalize and get "camera time" from media, themselves influencing events and outcomes, rather than objectively reporting them, as was once the standard of good journalism.
I'm as sickened as anyone by the legacy of the conquistadors, exactly why I believe such statues must remain—because those who forget history are destined to relive it—and because our "leaders"—a term I use advisedly—should ensure we all get input into the fate of our historic monuments, perhaps with plaques nearby to ensure a full, accurate presentation of a brutal history.
Just Take a Minute
Every monument in downtown Santa Fe identified by Mayor Webber for "evaluation" of removal was either removed, -graffitied or partially removed. This is what happens when there is no communication and [haphazard] approaches in policy making choices.
The mayor's speech was unifying and the proposal of the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was essential. His actions subsequent to that speech were reprehensible. A choice was made to remove everything under the cover of the same night the mayor's solemn announcement was made. Reportedly, even the governor apparently offered resources. Overreach…
This is an opportunity lost. A chance was given to unite our citizens in a way that no other city in the US has proven capable of doing instead of seeing the destruction and vandalism of numerous monuments. This was a chance to open dialogue and let the people choose to remove these symbols and move forward…
I went to the protest of the Three Sisters and listened to them. It was beautiful and inspiring. I certainly could understand their desire to remove the monument. But couldn't all of this have been accomplished with tact and healing? Especially after we've observed and we are so raw ourselves from the coronavirus and protests? If the mayor wanted to give us the space for open discussions and transitioning to a new world then there was a far gentler way to accomplish it…Let's be the light that's sorely needed during our country's darkness and awaken a kinder and multicultural dialogue with our community.
Born and raised in Santa Fe, traced our family roots back 500 years to Spain, driven out as Jews. I love the City Different, I always have, always will. Our family was very involved in Santa Fe Fiestas, my father was involved in the Fiesta Courts for many years. In school we would get out early for Zozobra and the fiestas. They would teach us how Don Diego did wonderful things for Santa Fe. One thing they never taught us is how the Spaniards treated Indians. I learned that much later on my own. I'm ashamed that for so long I never knew and it wasn't taught in our schools.
Although those statues are our history in our city, they show Indians how we as Spanish have no remorse for what our ancestors did. I have remorse. I will learn from my ancestors and I will do better and be better.
Jennifer Cordova Garcia
Online, June 18:“De Vargas On Ice”
Unbelievable to me watching people defend these obelisks and statues here. People, don't hang on. The advent of placing new monuments in Santa Fe and around the country are incredible opportunities to express unity and greatness in our present culture. Embrace the new!
Spain is a big part of our culture here in New Mexico, good or bad. Even the Native Americans still practice many Spanish traditions. When will you be demolishing the Catholic churches? They are also in the tribes you know…We remember our past, as not to relive it. We learned from it and as long as we are not doing those ignorant atrocities that were done 400 years ago, then we are in a good place. Shame on the cities and towns across New Mexico for removing statues and trying to eradicate the Spanish people and culture of our state.