No jail time for protesters charged in obelisk destruction under deal with DA

·2 min read

May 20—The District Attorney's Office has reached an agreement with all but one of the protesters charged in connection with the October destruction of the Santa Fe Plaza obelisk that will allow them to avoid jail time.

In a move that District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said is designed to further reconciliation in the community, the defendants will be allowed to participate in a preprosecution diversion program.

"It was my promise upon assuming this position that our office would do our best to divert non-violent and first-time offenders from costly and unnecessary incarceration," Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. "The Obelisk case defendants meet the criteria I set out for diversionary programming. We have reached a resolution after months of careful investigation and negotiation between defendants, their attorneys, and my office that ensures justice while working toward community healing."

According to the District Attorney's Office, "the pre-prosecution diversion program consists of a combination of community service hours and a new approach rooted in restorative justice principles, which has been shown in other communities to lead to better outcomes for victims and those otherwise adversely impacted by crimes."

"The restorative justice process engages the defendants and the victims of crimes, together, to shape a resolution that is agreeable to all parties," a news release states. "Restorative justice has been used throughout the world, from the most serious crimes to conflicts between students. The defendants have agreed to participate fully, which includes acknowledgement of their actions, and participation in any resolutions that arise as part of the restorative justice process. Should any of the defendants fail to participate fully, or complete the terms of the program, their cases will be placed back on the Court's docket for prosecution."

The restorative justice process will be led by Common Ground Mediation Services.

The District Attorney's Office is poised to pay $1,500 in seed money for the restorative justice process, which will be led by Common Ground Mediation Services, and the remainder will be paid by the defendants.

"The program will last a minimum of six months and must be completed within two years," a news release states.

"Both the presence of and the toppling of the Obelisk left people within our community deeply hurting," Carmack-Altwies said in the statement. "I am pleased that we are pursuing a method of justice that will begin to heal those wounds. This is a new and innovative way of dealing with harm in the community that will move us closer to reconciliation."

The news release did not specify which of the defendants isn't part of the agreement or why.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.