Demonstrators tore down an obelisk in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Monday, which had been raised to commemorate New Mexico’s Union veterans of the Civil War, as well as those who fought in battles against Native Americans.
The monument, which stood in the Santa Fe Plaza since 1868, had long been a source of controversy, according to CNN. In addition to Union veterans, the inscription on one of its faces was dedicated “to the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with savage Indians in the territory of New Mexico.” The word “savage” had later been chiseled off.
Democratic Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber in June had ordered the obelisk removed, but such plans reportedly fell through because the monument was too heavy. It took approximately 40 people about 20 minutes to rip it down with ropes, chains, and pulleys on Monday.
Thread: Video of the 1868 was monument obelisk toppling over in the Santa Fe plaza this afternoon. A small business owner described mobs of people banging a drum, burning things and chanting loud. The only thing missing he said was police. pic.twitter.com/2aNvfvDC2f
— Megan Abundis (@meganrabundis) October 12, 2020
“The actions and violence that broke out on the Plaza today that led to the wanton destruction of the Obelisk was completely unacceptable,” Webber said in a statement. “That’s 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. So many people have abided by the law, there is no place in Santa Fe for this type of behavior. There is no place for people taking the law into their own hands. There is no place for people destroying historic monuments on their own.”
Local reports noted that police were not present on the scene when the obelisk was toppled, but the Santa Fe Police Department said on Facebook, “The City of Santa Fe Police Department had six officers on the plaza today for the scheduled peaceful demonstration. The Police Department had no intelligence or information that would have led them to believe the demonstration would become destructive or violent.”
The two men arrested in connection with the incident were 27-year-old Dylan Wrobel, who was charged with battery on a peace officer and resisting an officer; and 24-year-old Sean Sunderland, who was charged with resisting an officer and criminal trespass.
The destruction in Santa Fe came the same day that protesters ripped down statues of former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt in Portland, Oregon.
Portland police declared a riot after protesters turned violent and broke windows and toppled statues of former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Police declared a riot shortly before 1 a.m. early on Monday morning after rioters began vandalizing and destroying property in downtown Portland. The destruction and chaos came out of an event that organizers had dubbed “Indigenous People’s Day Of Rage,” according to fliers that were handed out at the gathering.
“Indigenous People’s Day Of Rage” was scheduled on the night before Columbus Day, a federal holiday meant to honor the famed explorer Christopher Columbus. In recent years, activists have questioned Columbus’s place in history over his treatment of Native Americans.
Organizers signaled their intent to turn the protest violent by warning away photographers, reporters, and others who usually attend such protests with taking part, according to The Oregonian. Videos surfaced later on Twitter of destruction caused after rioters tore down two statues and shattered the windows of the Oregon Historical Society Museum.