KOB Web Staff & Megan Abundis
Updated: October 13, 2020 03:15 PM
Created: October 12, 2020 03:16 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Protesters pulled down a controversial war monument in the heart of the Santa Fe Plaza Monday afternoon during an Indigenous Peoples' Day demonstration.
Around two dozen protesters were seen using straps to pull down two sections of the obelisk.
Local business owner Jorsiak Borchers described how the scene unfolded.
"There were a group of people dressed in black, and they began to climb the monument in the center of the Santa Fe Plaza. They threw a rope around it. Cheers and applause of everyone to tear it down. A lot of cop cars came quickly into town. A lot do them. Within ten minutes they left and disappeared," Borchers said. "Only a minute or two later the monument in the center or the plaza came tumbling down. They were cheering happy really excited about it. There were also other bystanders that were not as excited about what was happening."
Law enforcement officers armed with nonlethal weapons blocked off the obelisk while bulldozers cleaned up the rest of the rubble.
The monument was built in 1868 for New Mexico Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War. On one face of the monument there's a dedication to “heroes” who died in wars with Native Americans.
At one point, the inscription on the monument referred to Native Americans as “savages”, but that word has since been chiseled out.
The attempts to remove the obelisk in the past have been complicated by the plaza's status as a National Historic Landmark.
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber posted a video to Facebook in response to the incident.
"I want to condemn— in the strongest possible terms—the violence that broke out on the plaza today that led to the wanton destruction of the obelisk," the mayor said. "That is not how we do things in Santa Fe. It is not only a violation of the law, it is a violation of the ties between people in our community. There is no place in Santa Fe for people taking the law into their own hands, and there is no place for people, destroying historic monuments on their own."
The Santa Fe City Council held an emergency meeting to discuss how police officers responded and what might happen to people who pulled down the 152-year-old obelisk
"There's plenty of video around us. I am sure everyone has seen. We have video of people pulling down the obelisk. People who were on it. Are we prepared to press charges against those people?" said Santa Fe City Councilman Chris Rivera (District 3).
Police said they made two arrests at the protest. Dylan Wrobel, 27, was charged with battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest and Sean Sunderland, 27, was charged with resisting an officer and criminal trespassing.
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