On Wednesday, citizens of Santa Fe began posting on Facebook photographs showing the Cross of the Martyrs in Santa Fe had been desecrated, with the words “LAND BACK” emblazoned with spray paint on the stone next to the cross. The cross was built to honor the legacy of 21 Franciscan friars who were brutally murdered during Popé’s rebellion in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. During the bloody revolt, a total of 400 people were killed.
Thomas Baca Gutierrez, a former President of the Caballeros De Vargas wrote on Facebook with a photograph of the vandalism, “It’s time to stand up and fight for our religion and culture. These people are causing genocide to the Hispanic community and our religion. The Red Nation and Three sister collective are hate groups and should be labeled as such.”
Amber Espinoza-Trujillo, wife of former Santa Fe City Councilor Ron Trujillo wrote on Facebook, “After Councilor Renee Villarael and Mayor Alan Webber opened the Floodgates of Hate! Now many police are allowed to be guarding the Plaza? Ya paque? You already allowed the destruction! Now the Cross of the Martyrs has been tagged twice.”
Vincent Torres of the Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico wrote on his timeline, “Deeply saddened to see this beautiful place — where I gather monthly with Hispanic, Native American, and Caucasian pastors — vandalized. Paint cannot, however, eradicate our unity or keep us from faithfully praying over Santa Fe and reclaiming it as the ‘City of Holy Faith.’ We clean up and we keep praying.”
The memorial’s desecration comes days after the obelisk sitting in the heart of the Santa Fe Plaza had been toppled on Christopher Columbus Day by anarchists, while the Santa Fe Police Department allowed the destruction. Mayor Alan Webber and Police Chief Andrew Padilla defended their inaction, with Padilla saying, “The monument, yes, it’s historical, but it’s an object.”
The apparent free reign granted by Padilla and Webber to destroy property most likely led to the vandalism of the Cross of the Martyrs, possibly initiated by radical groups The Three Sisters and The Red Nation, which have lauded the desecration of public property in the past.
Webber has not yet released a statement on the Cross of the Martyrs desecration, however, on Wednesday the Santa Fe City Council “resolved to move forward with plans for a commission to examine long-standing inequities in the community and the history of colonization in Northern New Mexico,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
The landmark has repeatedly been vandalized over the years, usually on Indian Market Weekend. A Change.org petition has been started to remove Mayor Webber for “disregard towards Santa Fe and it’s rich history by his actions in office.”