SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Dozens of protesters marched through San Francisco’s Chinatown on Wednesday, denouncing the idea of naming the city’s newest subway station after late Chinatown community leader Rose Pak.
Back in June, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board members chose to avoid voting whether to name the Central Subway Chinatown Station as “Chinatown Rose Pak Station.”
But with the item set to return in front of the board at its upcoming meeting this Tuesday, protesters took to the streets to urge the SFMTA to simply name the station “Chinatown Station.”
Eva Lee with the Chinatown Merchants Association, which helped organize Wednesday’s march, described Pak as a bully who intimidated others within the city’s Chinese community.
“I’m to sorry to have to say that, but a lot of people would agree with me,” she said.
“Chinatown represents all of us. It’s our community; it’s our identity; it’s our soul. Why do you want to take this and have one person represent Chinatown? It’s bigger than one person,” she said.
According to the merchants association, it has already gathered more than 10,000 signatures from people opposed to naming the station after Pak.
“We need to listen to our community,” Betty Louie, a community advocate, said. “We just need to keep the name to its geographical location and have people understand that she represents a small group of influencers who can do what they want without asking the community.”
Tane Chan, owner of the Chinatown store The Wok Shop, said, “Come on, let’s make it sweet and simple, Chinatown says it all.”
If board members decide to vote to name the station after Rose Pak, the merchants association said it would submit a November ballot initiative to let voters decide.
Pak, who once served as the head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, has been credited with battling on behalf of the poor, immigrants and women, and advocating for the renovation of public housing in Chinatown.
She was also credited with helping Mayor Ed Lee become the city’s Chinese-American mayor, transforming the city’s Chinese Hospital into a $160 million modern facility and helping to bring the Central Subway into reality. Pak died in 2016 of natural causes.
Although Muni officials had predicted the Central Subway, which will take passengers from Chinatown to the city’s South of Market area, would be complete by the end of this year, Muni officials last month declined to predict a completion date for the project.
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