“A Political Problem”: New Mexico District Attorney Gives Probation To All Rioters

We previously discussed how prosecutors in North Carolina, Georgia, Oregon, and other states have dismissed or downgraded many rioting cases, including cases of individuals who destroyed statues in broad daylight.  Now, New Mexico District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has announced that all of the individuals who destroyed a 152-year-old obelisk last October will be given “restorative justice” and no jail time. They will however be required to write a letter about their actions. Carmack-Altwies called the premeditated act of destruction of the obelisk a mere “political problem that got forced upon the criminal justice system.”

The statement of Carmack-Altwies is reminiscent of Speaker Nancy Pelosi shrugging off the destruction in her own home city of statues with “people will do what they do.”

The obelisk was erected in 1866 to honor Civil War-era soldiers who died in battle. The North-facing Panel #4 however read: “TO THE HEROES WHO HAVE FALLEN IN THE VARIOUS BATTLES WITH SAVAGE INDIANS IN THE TERRITORY OF NEW MEXICO.”  The “savage” reference was removed in the 1970s. It was a National Landmark.

Police did not stop protesters as they attached ropes and pulled down the obelisk.

The seven defendants destroyed the obelisk in broad daylight and showed little concern for arrest or prosecution. It turns out they had reason to be so self-assured. They will be given six months to two years probation and perform 40 hours of community service. They will also be  required to write a letter admitting their role in toppling the obelisk.

The seven defendants were charged with felony counts of damaging property worth over $1,000.

I actually do not want to see these defendants given any serious jail time.  In that sense, I agree with Carmack-Altwies that any sentence should be large probationary.  However, my objection is the statement that this is just a “political problem.” Would Carmack-Altwies have taken such a view if the statue involved a different symbol or figure? The concern is that prosecutors identify with some of these protesters or their causes.  Short jail stints, even for a few months, can offer some deterrence and, more importantly, establish that this criminal conduct will not be tolerated.  Even without such jail time, it was important for Carmack-Altwies to establish the clear criminality of such actions. Instead, she dismissed the conduct as political rather than criminal.

There is an important national debate to have over such controversial public art. However, we are not having that debate. Mobs been allowed to dictate what public art will remain and what will be torn down. The message being sent is that you can skip any effort to try to convince other citizens to remove public art and just destroy such pieces unilaterally. The question is how Carmack-Altwies will punish the next wave of rioters for such destruction when she has already declared such premeditated acts as a “political problem that got forced upon the criminal justice system.”

60 thoughts on ““A Political Problem”: New Mexico District Attorney Gives Probation To All Rioters”

  1. The DOJ has seized $90,000, and charged Ashli Babbitt, a BLM supporter, with weapons charges stemming from the Jan 6th attack on the Capitol. He was also arrested for rioting in Utah.

    According to the court documents, Sullivan portrayed himself as an independent journalist who was reporting on the chaos, but he actually encouraged other participants to “burn” the building and engage in violence.

    Sullivan is accused of having a conversation with others who breached the building and allegedly told them: “We gotta get this [expletive] burned,” according to court documents in his case.

    “There are so many people. Let’s go. This [expletive] is ours! [Expletive] yeah,” he allegedly cheered after he and protesters entered the Capitol, the DOJ documents said. “We accomplished this [expletive]. We did this together. [Expletive] yeah! We are all a part of this history,” and “let’s burn this [expletive] down.” The documents accused him of calling on others to burn the Capitol down multiple times.

    At one point, he’s also heard saying, “I am ready bro. I’ve been to too many riots. I’ve been in so many riots,” the documents said. “It would be fire if someone had revolutionary music and [expletive],” prosecutors said Sullivan told others on Jan. 6…

    Prosecutors furthermore alleged that Sullivan apparently broke a window inside and said, “I broke it. My bad, my apologies. Well, they already broke a window, so, you know, I didn’t know I hit it that hard. No one got that on camera.”

    After leaving the Capitol later on Jan. 6, Sullivan was seen, according to prosecutors, telling another individual that he “brought my megaphone to instigate [expletives]” and wanted to “make these Trump supporters [expletive] all this [expletive] up.”

    Sullivan recorded a video of the confrontation between rioters and police near the House chamber that included the shooting of Air Force veteran Babbitt and, according to court filings, bragged to a witness that “my footage is worth like a million of dollars, millions of dollars.”

    Sullivan in July 2020 was arrested in Utah for alleged rioting, making a threat of violence, and criminal mischief because he engaged in a riot that resulted in the shooting of a motorist amid nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations last year. He was named as an organizer in a police affidavit.


    1. Excuse me, but I neglected to put the above in quotes. It is a passage from the linked article.

  2. As a Santa Fe resident, all I can say about this DA that is printable is that I am less than impressed. Mr. Turley is spot on.

    1. It’s my hometown. My family has had six generations in the state. What these kids did was unacceptable and thoroughly unnecessary, and it wouldn’t have happened even 15 years ago. Santa Fe has been a deeply blue and deeply insular place for decades, though – it’s why I left and only go back to visit my sister.

      Like so many other dem-led communities, largely the result of wealthy transplants from wealthy places, things have been spiraling toward this inevitable state of affairs for some time. Most people in Santa Fe are extraordinarily privileged as it is at this point, and the formerly deep culture has pretty much been codified into a caricature.

  3. This is yet another example of the disparity in treatment of the Left and the Right.

    The Left rioted, looted, burned, seized entire city blocks, burned down a police precinct, stormed into the Capitol building and Senate offices during the Kavanaugh hearing, assaulted people in restaurants, threatened to burn people’s houses down with them still inside, and otherwise engaged in domestic terrorism. This is the use of violence, and the threat of violence, to get the demands of an organization met. They threatened to burn down entire cities

    Meanwhile, a group of Trump supporters, accompanied by a BLM activist and a couple of Antifa, broke into the Capitol building, trespassed, and posed in Nancy Pelosi’s office. One of them, an unarmed young woman, was shot and killed by Capitol police. There was a story pushed by the media that one of them killed a Capitol Police officer by beating him with a fire extinguisher, but that turned out to be untrue. They didn’t try to overthrow the government. Didn’t threaten to burn down entire cities. They monkeyed around in the building and acted like fools. Even though the BLM activist kept telling them to burn the building down, they did not. Wrong crowd, I guess, as it’s the Left that has been doing such things.

    Yet this lame, tame group has been rotting in jail ever since. Democrats claim they engaged in sedition, and they label all Republicans as in cahoots with them. Thousands of people attended a routine, peaceful Trump rally, in which the President urged his supporters to “peacefully protest”, and support Republican Congresspeople who were pushing for investigations into election integrity. Yet they claim he incited a “riot.” These are the same people who urged on actual riots. Kamala Harris said “beware, because this will continue, and it should continue.” “Riots are the voices of the unheard.” “Why should protests be peaceful?” “Go out, make a crowd, and make sure they know they aren’t welcome anymore anywhere.” Just in case we didn’t know where they stood, top Democrats, including on Biden/Harris’ team, bailed rioters and looters out of jail.

    And to top it all off, Democrat states keep abstaining from charging rioters, looters, and seditionists with any crime. Or if they do, they’re diverted to a counseling program.

    See the disparity?

    By all means, storm the Capitol building if it’s a Kavanaugh hearing, but God forbid you do so in support of Trump. Don’t forget your Handmaid’s Tale cloak to show your support of anti-Christian bigotry.

    1. Karen: I am thoroughly sick of your immature, misdirected, factually-inaccurate diatribes: your regurgitation of the lies you hear on alt-right media. First of all, those who have rioted in cities (other than the Capitol insurrection, which Trump orchestrated) are not Democrats. Democrats didn’t incite them to riot like Trump did. Stop saying they are. Democrats have condemned the rioting. The rioters are also not “the Left”, either. Stop saying they are. Those are lies. You call all people opposed to Trump “the Left”. Trump never captured the approval of even 50% of the American people, and plenty of Republicans object to his wrongful “presidency” that was procured by his campaign feeding sensitive polling information to Russian hackers who used it to spread lies about Hillary Clinton on social media in key districts that could sway the Electoral College. The rioters are not representatives of “the Left”. Stop lying about this.

      There was no “storming” involved with objecting to Kavanaugh’s appointment. Who was injured? What weapons were used? Who fomented the fake “storming” you are lying about? There were 25+ additional witnesses who begged to back up Dr. Ford’s testimony, but Republicans refused to allow them to testify and shoved Kavanaugh onto the SCOTUS anyway because they knew that they were going to lose power in the next election. Republicans don’t care that the views of Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Barrett are far right of the values and beliefs of the majority of Americans. It’s all about power. Grab it before they take it away from you. There is no equivalency, and your constant insistence that there is, is also a lie. Stop lying. There is no “disparity”. And, on this note, when is Dr. Blasey-Ford going to cash in on her “fame”, which is what you claimed was the motivation for her to testify in opposition to Kavanaugh? Last I heard, she and her family were still in seclusion. She paid a heavy price for telling the truth.

      The Capitol Insurrection did NOT involve Antifa or Black Lives Matter advocates, either. Stop lying about this. The Capitol Insurrectionists carried Trump and “Stop the Steal” flags, and were wearing Camp Auschwitz t-shirts, Nazi symbols and symbols of other White Supremacy groups. They are your Trump army, and are anything but “lame and tame”. Stop lying about Antifa and BLM supporters being those who carried out Trump’s command to “fight like hell or you’re not going to have a country any more”. And…why won’t Republicans agree to a full investigation of the Capitol Insurrection? What are they and you afraid of finding out? That Hannity’s been lying about ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter as being involved? We already know at least one active-duty Marine was involved. He’s already been kicked out of the service.

      “Anti-Christian bigotry”? Really? Do you think Trump is a Christian? How dense do you have to be to even think such a thing? There’s no room in his life for anyone other than himself and his ego. He has had a reputation for cheating people and lying his entire life, so now those who oppose him are “anti-Christian”?

      1. Natacha, you are an anti-semite who wrote a screed about rich Jews and Israel on another post on this blog. I normally just skim past what you write, and regret reading that bit. I wish I could wash my eyes.

        I could care less what you think about me, or about any other issue.You should know that I stopped reading the above comment at your first word, and I won’t read another word of yours again. It’s just too ugly. You can obsess about me, Fox, Trump, Russia, or Israel as you please, but I’ll have no idea. You’re spitting into the wind. As soon as I see your name, I’ll think, oh, that’s the anti-semite, and just skip right past, just like you were a pesky fly, soon forgotten.

        1. Pointing out that Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem to curry favor and political contributions from wealthy Jews is not anti-Semitic. If anything, it’s anti-Trump. It’s not anti-Semitic to point out that Israel pushes into Palestinian territory, evicts Palistinian families living there, moves in Israelis and tries to encourage the belief that the US will back it no matter what it does. Moving the US embassy was a symbolic “in your face” maneuver that Israel wanted, so Trump did it. That action did nothing to further US interests, but it was calculated to get campaign contributions for Trump. Saying so is not anti-Semitic. Michael Cohen, who is Jewish, says that Trump is anti-Semitic, and I believe him because Trump is also racist, xenophobic and misogynistic. I know you don’t care what people think about your immature and ill-informed diatribes, but your comments just that. No one is “obsessing” by pointing out that the fuel for your comments comes from alt-right media, and especially Fox.

          You perhaps think that no one should push back against your blaming Democrats for everything and downplaying the Capitol Insurrection by calling them “lame and tame” protesters that were really ANTIFA and BLM, but I will continue to do so, because that’s just not the truth.

          1. “Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem to curry favor…”

            Natacha, are you so ignorant that you don’t realize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel? Where do countries generally place their embassies? In the capital city. That was supposed to have been done years ago.

            Trump brought peace to Israel and its neighbors. Biden has brought war and soon might bring nuclear war.

            “evicts Palistinian families living there”

            The specific complaint regarding 4 families in Jerusalem was a landlord-tenant dispute. The tenant refused to pay rent, so they were evicted. Hamas started bombing for political reasons.


      2. Natcha — Just stop reading Turley’s e-letters! That way you won’t feel compelled to make posts that most others laugh at or cry about – if they even take a second to look at.

  4. Well, first of all Turley, if these people were charged with a crime, then only the Judge could actually give them probation. The DA could dismiss the charges, but if she didn’t, then it’s up to the Judge. While the District Attorney could recommend probation, or even enter into a plea agreement calling for probation, the Judge still must approve it, and could deny probation. The Judge ultimately decides.

    Turley never lets an opportunity pass to criticize Nancy Pelosi. This is why respect for you is declining, Turley.

  5. And yet, no such leniency (or even “equal justice”) for those imprisoned for trespassing at the Capitol.

    1. The fact that you could even consider there to be any equivalency is “breathtaking”, to use a Turley adjective. The Capitol Insurrection was fomented by a losing presidential candidate whose mental illness prevented him from acknowledging the truth. He led an insurrection to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power after: 1. losing the popular and Electoral College votes, with the results certified by even Republican Secretaries of State; 2. multiple unsuccessful recounts, re-recounts and signature match examinations; 3. an unsuccessful attempt to bully a Secretary of State, a state Attorney General and Governor; 4. losing 60+ court challenges; and 5. multiple rallies in which he lied to his disciples about the election being “stolen”. The intention of the rioters was to hang the VP for refusing to reject certified vote results, and to intimidate members of Congress into not declaring Biden the winner. In the process, they broke windows and doors, trespassed into the Capitol, broke into offices, stole the Speaker’s laptop, defaced the memorial to Rep. John Lewis and defecated and urinated inside the building. They were carrying zip ties and bear spray. That anyone could have his head shoved so far up his rectum to downplay this as a mere “trespass” is astonishing, just like ongoing support for the worst POTUS ever, despite cheating to get into office, despite causing the economy to crash, despite botching a pandemic and lying about it and refusing to accept the peaceful transfer of power that every previous officer holder has done. My question is this: would these people have done these things but for Trump and his malignant narcissism? Of course not. He’s as guilty as those he egged on.

      1. your comment will not age well
        by years end we will find out the election was indeed stolen
        just like we eventually found out that every accusation criticism and attempted take down of trump was a lie distortion or half truth
        just like were finding out that masks and social distancing was wrong and that even bidens own people are now saying that covid may have come out of the lab
        get ready to lose whats left of your disordered mind

      2. They are equivalent.

        Here is andy Ngo


        Local politicians at the time condemned law enforcement and lionized the criminals. Portland city councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty spread a conspiracy theory that police were engaging in false-flag arson attacks to frame left-wing protesters. Mayor Ted Wheeler told President Trump in a news conference to take his “troops” and leave. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden called the officers an “occupying army.” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown described them as “secret police abducting people in unmarked vehicles.”

        The media were no better.

        In August, NPR gave an unchallenged platform to Vicky Osterweil to promote her book “In Defense of Looting.” During the interview, the author argued that rioting and looting were legitimate acts of protest. Both local and national media rigidly only referred to the far-left rioters as “protesters.” The Associated Press, which sets guidelines for journalists, amended its stylebook to discourage use of the word “riot,” given protesters’ “underlying grievances.”

  6. Riots and the destruction of property are criminal. The leaders should be jailed and given significant time. The followers probably should serve some jail time. All should be forced to repay for the damage to the statue and do so annually. The incident is something not to be forgotten.

    1. S. Meyer, “ Riots and the destruction of property are criminal. The leaders should be jailed and given significant time. The followers probably should serve some jail time.”

      So I take it you are also advocating for Trump to face jail time for inciting the riot at the Capitol. He is after all, their leader.

      1. If Trump were guilty of what you say, I would advocate what you propose, but Trump is not guilty.

        Now you have the problem of converting your banal opinion into fact and proof. You have never been able to do so, and you won’t be able to do so now.

  7. “New Mexico District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has announced that . . .” “Speaker Nancy Pelosi shrugging off the destruction in her own home city of statues with ‘people will do what they do.’” (Among the countless other appeasers.)

    This is the result of college-educated people who are ignorant about history and its lessons. When the Vandals sacked Rome, they looted wealth and destroyed art (including statues). Their goal was to destroy Roman *civilization*. Those Vandals were foreign invaders.

    What makes this more despicable is that our vandals are home-grown. They are academia’s foot soldiers, raised on a steady diet of nihilism. Their target is not just this or that statue. Their goal is to topple Western civilization. This is a culture war: Western values versus barbarism.

    That our cultural leaders do not see this, portends doom for the West and for the American Republic.

    1. ” our vandals are home-grown. …Their goal is to topple Western civilization. “

      Sam, funny you should use those words.

      The Muslim Brother declaration presented at the Holy foundation trial said: “The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers…”.”

      1. Funny you should mention MB. I almost included the Islamic faction of contemporary vandals.

        The West has numerous, uncompromising enemies. And very few bona fide allies.

      2. a significant portion of the muslim world is giving the rest of the world an immense amount of feedback about exactly what theyre planning
        theres a reason that democrats sidle up to them
        theyre soulmates
        because the very thought of the destruction of the western world gets them both off at night

        if democrats cared about blacks women children and gays even half as much as they preen about

        they would hate muslims

        and planned parenthood

        republicans would be in the unfortunate position of having to pry democrats off them with a crowbar

        ferns law:

        democrats dont actually believe in anything that they preach to you about

        1. In between arguing with Anonymous the Stupid and his pretend friends, it is good to hear someone else. One doesn’t get common sense when listening to Anonymous the Stupid. Thank you.

  8. haha so anyone can destroy property and claim it’s just a political statement…where do you braw the line…let’s say I do not like your electric Tesla in your driveway because it uses too much electricity and destroys the environment…do I now have the right to destroy the car?…to save the environment?

  9. “ I actually do not want to see these defendants given any serious jail time. In that sense, I agree with Carmack-Altwies that any sentence should be large probationary.”
    Typical comment from someone who thinks civilization is a given situation and are then shocked when reality sets in. It’s not a given (see Hobbes) just like this isn’t an attack on “property.” As any psychologist can tell you, it’s an attack on culture. As such it should get the harshest punishment permissible, not an essay contest. Great societies fall from within not from without. It’s all about self-doubt, guilt and a preoccupation with what’s the easiest thing to do. It’s a damn shame.

    If you want to see what happens next, read Gibbon.

    1. *For those interested in Hobbes thoughts on the fragility of civilization (in “Behemoth”) you can read Prof Kraynak’s article:

    1. Oh, yes. Soros has been spreading his $$ around New Mexico. He knows there are enough FOOLish voters here to be easily swayed to his “kind” of Democrat candidates.

  10. Destruction of property is destruction of property. Period. Motivation, political or otherwise, is not relevant, except maybe if the property in question constitutes an imminent threat to health or safety and lawful efforts have been exhausted–and even then, it’s iffy because it just comes down to one person’s opinion.

    Next, someone will trash a small store because they don’t like the politics or ethnicity of the owner? That will be political, too. ANYTHING can be claimed to be political. nd if someone is injured or killed in the process?

    The law likes bright lines, sometimes to a fault. But in this case there really is a bright line that deserves respect because the alternative leads to chaos.

  11. “ I actually do not want to see these defendants given any serious jail time. In that sense, I agree with Carmack-Altwies that any sentence should be large probationary.”

    Turley has no objection to the probation punishment.

    “ The concern is that prosecutors identify with some of these protesters or their causes. Short jail stints, even for a few months, can offer some deterrence and, more importantly, establish that this criminal conduct will not be tolerated. Even without such jail time, it was important for Carmack-Altwies to establish the clear criminality of such actions. Instead, she dismissed the conduct as political rather than criminal.”

    Here Turley claims prosecutors identify with some of these protesters or their causes without offering any proof. He’s already accusing them of being complicit. That’s Turley’s bias showing.

    It’s ironic how Turley criticizes this alleged sentiment of prosecutors which is the same sentiment they have on bad cops. Its the same attitude when it comes to police officers who abuse their authority. You want to deter this bad behavior from sone cops? Then apply the same wisdom he imparts. Short jail stints, even a few months can offer deterrence and make it clear such conduct will not be tolerated.

    You want to stop “public art” from being destroyed? Start by using your own advice on bad police officers first. Then people wouldn’t be tearing down monuments because there is no accountability for bad cops.

    1. “Start by using your own advice on bad police officers first. Then people wouldn’t be tearing down monuments because there is no accountability for bad cops.”

      That is a BS argument.


    2. She’s another one of New Mexico’s excuses for a District Attorney. A Democrat … and in Santa Fe. You only need to watch tv ads for Democrat candidates like her to know that rioting and mayhem by folks such as these criminals are not a reason to enforce the laws and punish the criminals.

  12. I am a lifetime resident of New Mexico. Santa Fe square was built in the early 1600s, is beautiful and is a world treasure. The mob were not from here. This is not a bunch of drunk teenagers whooping it up. They drove in from out of state with this purpose in mind. Can you imagine if this were in Rome?

    This was a deliberate act. I am a taxpayer and a citizen and they destroyed property that cannot be adequately valued nor replaced. How is that not an assault on every citizen? What if they did this to your new car and the police stood by and the judge told them to write you a letter? How would you feel if the insurance company joined in and not paid compensation? Too bad, but hey they did a little bit of community service.

    What if they tried this in Singapore? Istanbul! Moscow?
    Would the judge give them a weak slap on the hand?

  13. Obvious statement, but if you apply different justice to different political groups, you make justice political.

    Punishment becomes political excuse or political retribution.

    Criminals are no longer shamed, but become either heros or victims of malicious prosecution.

    And cops are no longer defenders of public safety, but agents of political prosecutors.

    Compare these prosecutions to the treatment of the January 6 rioters.

    Are we headed for Russian style justice?

    I hope that we are better than that.

  14. “They will however be required to write a letter about their actions”

    Will they still get dessert?

  15. “I actually do not want to see these defendants given any serious jail time. ”

    No, “serious jail time” should only apply when “the wrong kind” of protesters show up at the Holy and Sacred Capitol Building. Even then it’s no big deal when the protesters come to protest the nomination of a judge whom the NYT calls a “conservative.”

  16. Print a photo of the governor of the state on toilet paper and hang the rolls in bathrooms of the government bldgs including the courthouses.

    1. Make certain it’s photo in which the NM governor has a mask on. Not only did this sad excuse for a governor have a big photo op at some local “entertainment” business earlier this week … she wore a mask in all four (4) photos in the local “news”paper … despite the fact that she has been fully vaccinated for weeks and weeks. (The same paper had another front page article about trying to get more people in NM to get vaccinated! What a lousy example by a governor.)

  17. Santa Fe, NM, is known as “The City Different” because it celebrates the different cultures that came together as one. I was saddened when the obelisk in the center of the Plaza, a gathering place for all, was blithely torn down and nothing done to stop the criminals. As you so eloquently stated, does this give me the right to go up to other public art and destroy it simply because I don’t like it? It would certainly seem so. We need to stop allowing destruction of our cities, our monuments and most important, our civility and respect.

    1. The question really should be. Is it really …public art?

      The obelisk was a monument commemorating an event. Public art is more of decorative structures in public spaces. There’s a difference.

      Most statues and “public art” that was destroyed symbolized something those protesting didn’t agree with.

      Tearing down symbols that are regarded as part of the political problem is common. Look at people tearing down statues of dictators, regimes, anything associated with an oppressive idea or figure. It’s an expression of a sentiment. Statues and monuments can be replaced.

      1. “ I actually do not want to see these defendants given any serious jail time. In that sense, I agree with Carmack-Altwies that any sentence should be large probationary.”

        I agree with Jonathan Turley often. But on this I completely disagree 100%!!!! this is the reason the youth in America get away with so much horseshit nowadays. Because they no longer feel the swift, extremely harsh punishment of the law!!

        I say all, all rioters that destroy monuments should be given the harshest punishment under the law!! and if it happens in a state that the law on the books only calls for no more let’s say than 30 days in jail?

        Then the powers that be needs to change the law to where it severely, punishes the civil-thug!! just like littering. To me there is zero excuse for it!!! it should be a $5000 fine for littering!!!! 30 days mandatory in jail!!!!! There is zero excuse for tearing down statues
        Monuments, etc!!!

      2. It is public art in the sense that the public paid for its creation, installation, and maintenance – ideally, in a civilized world, something like this would be decided by a referendum requiring a super-majority in favor of removal. Anyway, let’s make a list of similar incidents in American History. Thomas Hutchinson owned his own house.

Comments are closed.