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Additional ‘Actions’ Planned by Outside Organizers to Have Statue Removed
By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
After an unsatisfactory response from Mayor Bruce Barrow demanding removal of Cerritos’ Gandhi statue, a coalition of local citizens promised to continue the protest to have the statue removed from the front of Chugh Law Firm.
The Organization for Minorities of India, OFMI, a Central California-based human rights group, is organizing local families and business-owners for a campaign seeking legal removal of the statue.
The disdain for the statue is palpable in Cerritos. The statue located at the corner of Carmenita Road and Alondra Boulevard has been a target of vandalism. Recently, officials bolted the statue down to help deter future theft attempts.
Ricky Pal, owner of a Cerritos deli, said, “the statue of a pervert does not belong anywhere.”
“The City of Cerritos has rejected our initial overtures, but this is only the beginning of our conversation,” said Arvin Valmuci, Coordinator at OFMI. “If they will not answer us, we will speak louder and more frequently. We are organizing locals opposed to the statue to speak at upcoming city council meetings and demonstrate on the streets so the city cannot fail to hear us.”
Mayor Barrows’ e-mail to OFMI basically said the Chugh Law Firm chose the statue and that the Fine Arts and Historical Commission and the City Council “received and approved” the statue.”
Barrow’s e-mail tersely concludes, “your comments have been noted.” Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper was provided a copy of the email.
“It claims the controversial statue belongs to the Chugh Law Firm on Carmenita Road, but also states both the City Council and Fine Arts and Historical Commission approved the statue after first requiring the law firm contribute to the “Art in Public Places” program,” said Valmuci.
“So it is clear the FAHC and the City Council approve of the statue.”
The statue, donated to the program in 2012, is drawing harsh censure from many local South Asian minorities who claim to suffer psychological damage from its presence.
Among their detailed reasons for opposing the statue are that Gandhi promoted racial segregation in South Africa shortly before Apartheid, that he sexually abused his underage grandnieces Manu and Abha at the height of his popularity, and that he entrenched caste, a system of social division, in India.
“It seems, due to their support for the Gandhi statue, Cerritos and its City Council are destined to receive a history lesson on the struggle for human dignity halfway around the globe,” said Valmuci.
Emails sent to all Cerritos City Council-members for response went unanswered.
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