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Santa Fe shelving plan to review contentious monuments

November 19, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The capital city in the state with the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the United States is shelving a plan to review its contentious monuments.

Aides to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said last week he is not focusing on a proposal to re-examine monuments connected to the city’s bloody past, The Santa Fe New Mexican reports .

Some of the monuments, like a statue of Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas, have drawn criticism from some advocates. They view de Vargas a someone who violently subjugated Native Americans.

The monuments have been compared to Confederate memorials in the southern states of the U.S.

Former Mayor Javier Gonzales asked city officials to draft a list of possible controversial monuments.

City employees compiled a list of 61 murals, plaques, sculptures, monuments, structures and displays that met the criteria for inclusion.

But there has been no movement on what to do next since Webber took office.

“It’s not something (Mayor Alan Webber) has reviewed since taking office, and it isn’t something he is focused on,” city spokesman Matt Ross said Thursday in a text message.

“The underlying goal is to find ways to bring the community together, and Mayor Webber has made that a priority in his own way through initiatives like the Southside Summer, the ($20 million bond issue) that invests in citywide priorities, and others.”

The dissonance over some of the city’s more controversial monuments may be something Webber has to deal with at some point.

A Ten Commandments monument, for example, continues to sit in front of a fire station in Ashbaugh Park. At the beginning of the year, a nonprofit organization in Madison, Wisconsin called for its removal, saying the 6-foot (1.8-meter)-tall granite tablet is “inappropriate and unconstitutional.”

Organizers of a dramatization depicting de Vargas’ reoccupation of the city retired the event this year after two consecutive years of protests.

And an obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza dedicated “to the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with the savage Indians in the territory of New Mexico” still stands today, though the word “savage” was chipped out in 1974 by an unidentified man.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com

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