SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A controversial statue in San Jose may now have a new home: a city storage facility.
The city’s public art committee voted this week to have the Thomas Fallon statue stored indoors and away from the public eye.READ MORE: Belmont Neighborhood Search For Aggressive Mountain Lion
The statue has created controversy since it was unveiled in the eighties and, over the past thirty years, has been the subject of protests to have it taken down.
Many argue that it symbolizes racism and colonialism.
Supporters have said the Thomas Fallon statue is a moment in history that should be represented in the city. The statue was erected to commemorate the raising of the U.S. flag in 1846 when California was still a part of Mexico.
“Our voice matters, my voice matters,” said Lidia Doniz who wanted to see the statue removed. “This is a symbol of the hate against young, black, indigenous and people of color.”
“I’m grateful that they took action but it shouldn’t have taken this long,” said Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Peter Ortiz.
Others, including Patrick Quinn who took down paper signs that had been taped on the statue to have it removed, said he doesn’t agree with the city’s decisions.READ MORE: Three Of Tonga’s Smaller Islands Badly Damaged By Tsunami; Concerns Mount Within Bay Area Tongan Community
“I think hiding it in a storage facility doesn’t make any sense,” Quinn said. “I don’t like public art being defaced because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Ortiz said he doesn’t necessarily believe the statue should be stored away. He feels it just doesn’t have a place in a prominent part of San Jose. It’s current position is on Julian and James Streets near San Pedro Square and Highway 87 on- and off-ramps.
“Which sent the message like, ‘This is our land, thanks to the conquering of native and Indigenous people, our downtown San Jose and the economic prosperity of Silicon Valley was possible because of that,” Ortiz said. “That’s the wrong message.”
A report done by the city showed that it will cost $150,000 to have the statue removed. That figure includes the cost of barricading the road and shutting down one lane of traffic. The city also discussed melting the statue down to recover costs but said that wouldn’t come anywhere near the amount to pay for its de-installation.
There was also talk of selling it back to artist Robert Glen but the artist did not want to buy it back. He, however, asked that it not be melted.
Doniz said the thirty-year journey in removing the statue shows that there are deeper issues in city government that need to be addressed and changed.MORE NEWS: Splash Brothers Curry, Thompson Lead Warriors Past Pistons, 102-86
“The lesson is to activate change, to listen to public comment,” Doniz said. “It’s a little bittersweet for the people who talked about this for 30 years that are not here with us today.”