‘Political problem’: Santa Fe-area DA defends letting obelisk topplers go free

On Thursday, the district attorney for the First Judicial District, Mary Carmack-Altwies, announced she would not be seeking jail time for any of the domestic terrorists who toppled the 153-year-old obelisk in Downtown Santa Fe dedicated to Union soldiers who fought against the Confederacy in the Civil War.

At the time, she claimed, “The Obelisk case defendants meet the criteria I set out for diversionary programming. We have reached a resolution after months of careful investigation and negotiation between defendants, their attorneys, and my office that ensures justice while working toward community healing.”

But her decision to not go after the ardent criminals who very deliberately and knowingly tore down a centuries-old piece of New Mexico culture and history was met with much fury from the public. 

Former city councilor Ron Trujillo said it was a “crock of crap” that Carmack-Altwies was letting the vandals go free, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

However, Carmack-Altwies claimed the toppling of the obelisk was “a political problem that got forced upon the criminal justice system” in her defense of her weak prosecutorial decision to let the criminals slide.

Some pointed out her tone-deaf comments, with one person writing, “Well, I suppose the storming of the national capitol was ‘a political problem that got forced upon the criminal justice system’ too. For that matter, were the bombings of abortion clinics, vandalism of fur farms, and burning of draft offices ‘political problems’? No. They were crimes.”

In her defense, the district attorney made clear she did not want a “punitive” result for the domestic terrorists. She said her “restorative justice” approach was “supposed to bring both sides together and get everyone to come to a resolution or conclusion about what they should do as part of their punishment. And it is a punishment.” She added, “It’s not punitive, necessarily, in that it’s not jail. But it is a punishment — they have to participate in this. And if they drop out and they don’t do it, then we lift the stay and prosecution keeps going.”

Many would say Carmack-Altwies is speaking out of both sides of her mouth if she says she does not want a “punitive” outcome while also saying the vandals having to merely talk it out with community leaders while they pick up a few pounds of trash is “punishment.” 

The Santa Fe New Mexican notes, “Carmack-Altwies said that while it will be difficult to identify the specific victims in the toppling of the obelisk on Oct. 12, anyone is welcome to present their grievances to the program’s mediator, Debra Oliver.”

Still, people are not happy with her weak-on-crime approach to holding these vandals accountable. One commenter said, “Mary, It is called ‘you let em go free.’” These words ring loud and clear for many New Mexicans, especially those in Santa Fe who will now have a chance to kick out Mayor Alan Webber, responsible for letting the obelisk get toppled as he commanded the police to stand by and watch.