After Fi­esta, out­rage over charges

Santa Fe New Mexican - - OPINIONS - Con­tact Steve Ter­rell at 505-986-3037 or ster­rell@sfnewmex­i­

Be­fore get­ting into this, I think it’s im­por­tant to point out that I’m writ­ing this col­umn from a free press zone, so I shouldn’t be ar­rested for any­thing I say.

Go­ing to the Plaza right be­fore noon to have my tra­di­tional Fri­day af­ter­noon Fi­esta lunch, I had to marvel at how few people were in line at the food booths. The lines were so short it was stun­ning. “It’s those silly pro­test­ers,” said the lady tak­ing my green chile cheese­burger or­der. “People are afraid to come down here. And th­ese pro­test­ers aren’t even from here. They’re from South Dakota and Cal­i­for­nia. They don’t know any­thing about Santa Fe. They don’t know any­thing about Fi­es­tas.”

I held my tongue — usu­ally not a good idea to ar­gue with people about to pre­pare your food. But I knew she was wrong. And in fact, the list of the eight people who later would be ar­rested that day for the En­trada protest shows that at least six of them are from New Mex­ico. (One guy is from Cal­i­for­nia. An­other’s ad­dress isn’t on ini­tial court records.)

So what we have here is a home­grown con­flict — not a case of “out­side ag­i­ta­tors” try­ing to stir up trou­ble in our in­no­cent lit­tle burg with crazy out­sider ideas. This is some­thing that Santa Fe is go­ing to have to deal with our­selves — and not just with a mas­sive po­lice pres­ence.

I was on the Plaza for the con­tro­ver­sial En­trada. In an ef­fort to avoid pro­test­ers, or­ga­niz­ers moved it up from 2 p.m. to noon. It might not have been a peace­ful re­con­quest, but, this year at least, it was a sneaky re­con­quest. And tech­ni­cally it seemed to work. When Don Diego de Var­gas and his crew came in, there was only one vo­cal pro­tester on the Plaza, a guy in a head­dress who shouted through­out the re-en­act­ment. But the num­ber of non­protest­ing spec­ta­tors seemed to be way down as well. I’m not sure what was ac­com­plished by chang­ing the sched­ule at the last minute.

Of course, the num­ber of pro­test­ers be­gan to grow, and by the end of the af­ter­noon, po­lice ar­rested eight people. The first ar­rests hap­pened when po­lice in­sisted on mov­ing the demon­stra­tors — who at the time num­bered about two dozen — from in front of the band­stand to a “free speech zone” a few yards away.

Free speech zone. That’s a muchridiculed con­cept and rightly so. I saw many people re­act on so­cial media with, “I thought the whole coun­try was a free speech zone” or sim­i­lar state­ments.

The first time I ever saw a free speech zone was at the 2004 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Bos­ton. It was a a stark area sur­rounded by a fence topped with ra­zor wire un­der el­e­vated train tracks about a five-minute walk from the Fleet Cen­ter, where the con­ven­tion was be­ing held. Armed Na­tional Guards­men in cam­ou­flage watched from the track di­rectly above the stage. A few stray gawk­ers, a hand­ful of bored looking jour­nal­ists and a cou­ple of Bos­ton cops who looked even more bored lis­tened — kind of — to people rant­ing about the CIA or what­ever. It was de­press­ing.

I was out­raged Fri­day night when I heard that the ar­rested pro­test­ers would have to spend the night in jail. Most of them were there on tres­pass­ing charges — tres­pass­ing on pub­lic streets. How was any­one pro­tected by keep­ing th­ese folks be­hind bars for so long?

And I was as­ton­ished that one of the pro­test­ers, Jen­nifer Mar­ley, a 21-yearold Univer­sity of New Mex­ico stu­dent from San Ilde­fonso Pue­blo, was charged with felonies. Po­lice claimed she hit two of­fi­cers with a card­board sign she was hold­ing.

Last week I viewed sev­eral po­lice videos made of Mar­ley’s ar­rest near the in­ter­sec­tion of Lin­coln Av­enue and Marcy Street and the mo­ments lead­ing up to it. If a vi­o­lent felony were com­mit­ted, it was not cap­tured on any of those videos. Po­lice Chief Patrick Gal­lagher has said much the same thing. The chief says you don’t see any­one be­ing hit; you can see Mar­ley “swing­ing” her sign. But I didn’t see that.

In one of the videos, posted on this pa­per’s web­site Wed­nes­day, Mar­ley, who was hold­ing signs in each hand, ap­peared to flick one of her wrists sud­denly. But a viewer doesn’t see the sign strike or even touch any­one or any­thing. About a minute later, a po­lice of­fi­cer grabbed her from be­hind and sub­dued her.

If this is the best ev­i­dence the state has, then District At­tor­ney Marco Serna would be fool­ish to pur­sue felony charges. Time and en­ergy would be bet­ter spent hav­ing a se­ri­ous pub­lic de­bate on the En­trada and what can be done to make Fi­esta a cel­e­bra­tion for all of us.

Steve Ter­rell Round­house Roundup

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