Merry Christmas from Taos Pueblo: Part II
Lawlessness and Law Enforcement: The Jackboots Comet
(Rio Grande Gorge Bridge) According to documents shown to this reporter, a resolution was passed by the Taos Tribal Council in 1963, selling 35 acres to the New Mexico State Highway Department for the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and approaches. Further, a survey, letter from the federal government to the state government, and other documents confirm the purchase of the rightaway from the Taos tribe that year. Judge John Paternoster, in a recent District Court decision, confirmed the vendors’ rights to remain at parking and rest areas on the east side approach to the bridge.
To enforce the existing law, Vendors say a local attorney will seek a court-ordered restraining order or permanent injunction ordering the removal of the concrete barriers and restoration of the parking lot for vendors and tourists.
The actions taken by Taos Pueblo, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, and Taos County Sheriff’s Office raise serious questions about law enforcement or, better yet, lawless behavior by officers of the law. Vendors were given no warning regarding the closure of the east and north lot next to the bridge. They say a Taos Tribal policeman (?) pulled out a weapon and threatened a vendor. But, according to documents, the tribe has no jurisdiction over the area. The public and the courts have been mugged by politicians at NMDOT, Taos Pueblo, and jackbooted cops.
In the greater picture, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is one of three or four major tourist destinations in Taos. Yet, the Mayor of Taos and County Commission, remain quietly on the sidelines (mulling over liquor licenses?). The bridge itself was constructed, like Highway 64, for the specific purpose of improving the economy of Taos Valley. Even the state plaque commemorating the opening of the bridge is now off limits to the public.
Neither Gov. Nelson Cordova nor WarChief Edwin Concha of Taos Pueblo will respond to media requests, according to mainstream news reports. They both owe the public and the vendors an apology. Surely, after 32 members of Taos Pueblo were jailed in what became a scandalous incident at the Taos County Courthouse, resulting in the resignation of a local judge, Taos Pueblo should be aware of the way in which the law and law enforcement can be used in prejudicial ways.
Now Gov. Susana Martinez and the Chief of the New Mexico Department of Transportation must answer for what appears to be an arbitrary and capricious act of malfeasance. How can the Pueblo and state government plead ignorance of the law when the documents have been fully vetted by court decisions, signed off on by the Tribe, and etc.
As for the issue of the Bighorn Sheep being fed, harassed, or in any way compromised by the Vendors and Tourists, that notion is nonsense. During the last two years, I have taken my daily constitutional frequently on the west rim of the gorge, courtesy of the BLM. The Bighorn Sheep occasionally congregate on the east side of the gorge, not far south and opposite the bench on the west side. One can count anywhere from a dozen to fifteen of the animals foraging together on Tribal land. Occasionally, a few stragglers have surprised me on the west side.
But you can’t get within a stone’s throw of the animals before the fleet footed beauties turn impossible precipices and boulder strewn slopes into playgrounds and flee, down into the gorge and up the other side. I have noticed them gathering on the north and east side of the Vendor area very few times, two or three, but hardly within shouting distance of the east side rest area.These sheep are wild things, wary, and more than apprehensive about coming into contact with members of the WarChief’s staff than are the vendors. The Bighorn Sheep are tenacious and no longer considered an endangered species. Taos Pueblo, like the rest of the community, will learn that the Vendors at the Bridge have much in common with the Bighorn Sheep.
Below, a reader writes with a temporary solution for Vendors momentarily displaced by the outlaws from Taos Pueblo and NMDOT.
I want to let the vendors at the Gorge Bridge to know that I do have a flea market at 112 Este Es Road on Saturdays….if it is not a blizzard or pouring rain…with a minimal charge of $13.50….it is well attended by both locals and tourists…it is listed in Tempo Calendar of Events for Saturday…time 8am-3pm, or there about, weather permiting. I do have an okay from the town and the proper licensing.
Thanks for your time
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