New Mexico Hispanic Fraternal Order Sues the Mayor of Santa Fe for Failing to Protect Historical Monument
A Hispanic fraternal order based in New Mexico has recently filed a lawsuit against the mayor of Santa Fe for the damage that a historical monument took after radical leftist agitators vandalized it, a move which compelled the city to permanently remove it.
According to an Associated Press report, the Union Protectiva de Santa Fé filed a lawsuit on June 16 in the state district court over the monument’s removal. In the lawsuit, the fraternal order argued that the monument in question, a 152-year-old stone obelisk, enjoys legal protections as a historical site under state law and that its removal does not honor the sacrifices of Hispanic veterans.
According to the AP report by Cedar Attanasio, “A group of around 40 mostly white activists tore down the stone obelisk last year after other statues and monuments across the U.S. were toppled over concerns about racism.”
The Santa Fe monument features inscriptions that honor Union soldiers who died in fighting Native American tribes and Confederate soldiers.
The lawsuit requests a judge to keep the city from spending time or resources on changes to the historic downtown park until the stone obelisk is brought back.
This move would throw a wrench in Mayor Alan Webber’s plans to have an independent commission determine the monument’s fate. Although Webber has pushed for removing the obelisk, he stressed that he would respect whatever decision the commission ends up making. Next month the city council will consider a proposal to have a commission take on the task of determining the monument’s fate. The city council will work with a budget of roughly $265,000.
Apart from serving as a Civil War memorial, the obelisk is a symbol of the land grant that the Spanish royal authorities bestowed upon Spanish families who settled the region in the 1600s. “We’re protecting our history, culture and our traditions, and our religion also,” declared Virgil Vigil, President of Union Protectíva de Santa Fé.
Vigil is a Vietnam War veteran and helicopter pilot who firmly believes in honoring veterans. “This is respecting our soldiers that gave their lives to maintain the freedom that we have and to end slavery,” Vigil stated during an interview on June 14.
Vigil has repeatedly criticized Webber’s response to the protests about the obelisk and the removal of Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas’ statue from a downtown park. He claims that his organization has not been invited to any conversations about these monuments’ removals.
“This lawsuit is not the way forward,” Webber declared. The mayor reassured critics like Vigil that the commission would be addressing the matter “very soon.”
In 2020, Webber demanded that the obelisk be taken down a few months before activists ended up vandalizing it and took it down during a protest in mid-October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The destruction of the obelisk took place after police vacated the area, which the mayor argued was a decision made to prevent any further escalation of violence.
“I am angry the vandals tore down the obelisk before it could be removed to safety. I don’t approve of it. I think we needed to have a conversation,” Webber remarked.
The vandalization of historic monuments will continue unabated as long as there is weak leadership in local positions of government. George Orwell was correct in noting that “A people that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.” As long as people elect sketchy politicians at the local level, more monumental removals and similar forms of cultural radicalism will ensue.