Yesterday’s Entrada protest resulted in police actions that were entirely unnecessary. Protesters had moved to the designated ‘free speech zone’ with a dozen still slowly moving in that direction, but then they were arrested….and remain in jail. Details on this and our Town Hall next week. Let’s get together, talk, and plan.
Town Hall, Saturday Sept 16, 1:30-3:30pm, 1420 Cerrillos, Center for Progress & Justice. ICE and the Repeal of DACA, Climate Change, and White Supremacy: a Three-Headed Threat to Our People and Our Planet. At the Town Hall we will hear from a panel of three speakers with expertise on each of these three threats: Mariel Nanasi, from New Energy Economy; Allegra Love from Santa Fe Dreamers; and Scott Davis from Showing Up for Racial Justice. We will hear about the status of each of the panelists’ organizations efforts to fight this three-headed monster. How are the issues connected? What can we do here in Santa Fe? After hearing from the panelists, we will break into groups with participants being able to talk about options for local action.
Before the panel, we will hear from Tomás Rivera who will outline Chainbreaker’s People’s Platform, a ten-point economic and racial justice platform developed through a highly grassroots process spanning 18 months. His presentation will prepare participants for our October 21 Town Hall, when a more expansive platform will be introduced that includes policies identified by the Retake Our Democracy’s Local Research and Advocacy Team. At the October meeting, we will discuss the entire platform and participants will be able to prioritize and rank the various items.
To RSVP for the Sept. 16 Town Hall on Facebook, click here (preferred) or reply to this email or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, it is very hard to plan for these town halls if you don’t RSVP, so please let us know you are coming.
Entrada Protest: About 200 Peaceful Protesters & an Unnecessary Police Response
The Santa Fe New Mexican managed to not report the details about the arrests of 7 protesters and one uninvolved tourist from Los Angeles. And indeed, it has been reported elsewhere that the number of arrests was actually 12. Roxanne and I witnessed the protest and police action first hand, spoke with a local attorney prepared to provide pro bono legal help to those arrested, and texted back and forth with the Mayor to try to ensure a swift release of those arrested.
First, who got arrested and why: As reported in The New Mexican, (click here for their report), at 11:30 Entrada organizers decided to move up the Entrada from 2pm to Noon in an effort to avoid the protest. While this may have enabled the Entrada to proceed with a far smaller crowd of protests, it is also resulted in many of their intended audience missing the ceremony. Nonetheless, protesters quickly got word of the time shift and by 12:15 a crowd of 50 or more were present with signs, continuously shouting “Abolish the Entrada” and other slogans. Throughout the short ceremony police stood by benignly. But as the ceremony ended and the crowd of protesters grew significantly in numbers, police announced that protesters had to move to an enclosed and distant area that the Fiesta organizers identified as the “free speech zone.”
For some time, a standoff occurred with a line of police linking arms and facing the protesters (photo at left) but despite asking protesters to move, no effort was made to make them do so. And so the chanting continued. After 30 minutes or so, white plastic handcuffs were distributed among the police and the line of police very slowly moved forward against the protesters. While I feel there was absolutely zero need to move the protesters 200 feet east to our designated ‘pen’ — the free speech zone, ringed with metal barriers–the police moved very slowly and without any belligerent actions, despite being the subject of persistent shouts in protest of their efforts. It took about 45 minutes for the police action of moving slowly forward to get 95% of the protesters into the zone, as directed. But as the last of the protesters neared the zone, in truth, no more than 10 feet from the zone, the police began making arrests. I was still outside the zone just 1-2 feet from police as they began making arrests. There was absolutely no way those arrested could have moved any faster to get to the zone as the crowd was thick. What’s more, they were entirely passive and quiet, moving stone-faced forward ever so slowly. They clearly posed no threat to anyone, and while being very slow in complying with police orders, they were moving toward the zone. At this point six people were arrested.
The crowd then began marching up Washington toward Marcy, turning left in an effort to return to the Plaza. But the police met them in force at Lincoln. And it is here where Jennifer Marley was arrested (below left). Roxanne then slipped away from the noise to call Dan Cron an attorney for the local Task Force providing pro bono legal representation. From Dan, Roxanne learned that as of July 1 a law had changed that now required that protesters must be cleared by a Magistrate or Municipal judge on a case-by-case basis before being released, and that judges had 48 hours after booking to meet with those arrested. This seemed outrageous and I felt that the arrests had been entirely unnecessary, so I texted Mayor Gonzales, asking him to intercede. He responded very quickly, texting that he was at the “command center,” that a municipal judge and district attorney had been part of the day’s planning process, and that those arrested were being taken to the jail on HWY 14.
We shared this info with organizers, and in the process met one woman who was in tears. She and her boyfriend, who is a Native American, are tourists from Los Angeles, had no idea what the Entrada was and were walking through the Plaza when confronted by police. Her boyfriend was told to remove his bandanna (apparently something prohibited by Fiesta organizers). He asked quite reasonably what that was about, but he removed the bandanna. The police told him to leave the area, so he and his girlfriend turned around and were returning to his car. As they walked away from the Plaza, he took out his bandanna to put in back on and to wipe his brow and the police grabbed him and arrested him, despite his girlfriend’s protests that they were leaving. This was reported to Roxanne and I directly by the girlfriend who we provided info on how to get to the jail and what the process would be, assuring her that from our texts from the Mayor, we felt that her boyfriend would be released very soon. While the other individuals arrested were clearly part of the protest, this person clearly was not. The City has some explaining to do on this and on what follows. How is a tourist supposed to know that you can’t wear a bandanna on the Plaza?
From a second New Mexican report: “From what I’m hearing, it sounds like these folks were simply out exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of expression,” said Dan Cron, a local attorney who has helped organize a team of lawyers to represent arrested protesters for free. In a letter faxed to Police Chief Patrick Gallagher on Friday, the ACLU of New Mexico said the city’s “sweeping restrictions raise serious constitutional concerns under the First Amendment.” The letter, signed by staff attorney Kristin Greer Love, warned that the city would be “exposed to civil liability” if it enforces unconstitutional restrictions on free expression or violates the First Amendment rights of Fiesta attendees.
The New Mexican went on to report: “Police Department spokesman Greg Gurulé said police were enforcing the will of the Fiesta Council, the nonprofit organization that the city annually grants a permit to put on the festivities on the Plaza park and adjoining streets. “It’s their event, it’s their Plaza,” he said. “So they can make the rules.” Gurule said officers decided to move demonstrators off the Plaza because “allowing the protest would be against what the Fiesta Council is trying to do.”
I have to say, if the law is that once you rent the Plaza to an organization, they are then authorized to suspend the first amendment, then that is simply not okay. What’s more, Jennifer Marley was arrested for trespassing on Lincoln Ave, a full block from the Plaza. Are the Entrada organizers allowed to define the parameters of their permit to include the entire downtown?
As we left the protest, based upon the Mayor’s texts, we felt confident that the City had made proactive plans to ensure that any protesters who were arrested would be released expeditiously. Therefore, we were very dismayed to see posted on Facebook last night that those arrested had been charged with criminal trespassing and were not being released that evening. Indeed those at the jail had been told that the judge would not appear until Sunday, requiring protesters to remain in jail for two nights. I called the jail this morning and confirmed that those arrested were still in jail, and the sheriff on the phone could only say that ‘sometime this weekend’ a judge would appear. I texted the Mayor this morning asking why a judge had not appeared and he instantly responded indicating that he had asked the judge to expedite the process, but that he has no authority to make that happen.
We will continue our efforts to work with the Mayor to get clarity as to how, if the judge and DA were part of the planning, there has been no judicial effort to release protesters who posed absolutely no threat to anyone, were complying with police orders, albeit slowly, and were only 5-10 feet from the designated free speech zone, having moved 200 feet from where the protests had begun. What was the point to these arrests? To our mind, it was absolutely unnecessary and, despite claims to the contrary, any coordination between DA, police, and judges didn’t result in anything like a quick release, which causes one to wonder if the intent of the coordination was to ensure that those who were just exercising their First Amendment rights were not just arrested, but rewarded with a two day sentence to jail. No doubt the language of the protesters was angry and profane, but hundreds of years of genocide and colonization are not going to elicit doilies and curtsies.
In the end, from crowd management to arrest and now to incarceration, the City perpetrated a miscarriage of justice and trampled all over the First Amendment. I’d suggest everyone pull out their bandannas and wear them around town in protest for awhile. We will update you in tomorrow’s post along with another incredible video from Rev. Barber.
Paul & Roxanne