Much-hated statue in San Jose is finally headed to a storage yard

Much-hated statue in San Jose is finally headed to a storage yard
Historic statue in San Jose is finally headed to a storage yard. Photo Credit: sanjoseca.gov
By Wesley Severson - Published on October 20, 2021.

A statue in San Jose that has been a source of controversy even before it was installed, now finally appears to be headed to a storage yard. The statue displays former San Jose mayor Thomas Fallon holding a flag in San Jose while he was a captain in the Mexican–American War in 1846, after the U.S. had just taken possession of California. 

Now, after one more hurdle, the statue on West St. James and Julian streets will be removed with the price tag of around $150,000 dollars. According to the Mercury News, the move is happening after the San Jose Arts Commission voted unanimously to recommend the removal of the statue. It’s now up to the city council to approve the recommendation on November 9th. 

Former Mayor Tom McEnery approved the commission of the statue in 1988, but it sat in storage for more than 10 years because of protests by community members. It finally was put in place in 2002 and has been the source of ongoing protests ever since. According to the Mercury News, this year alone the statue has been spray-painted, splattered with red paint, and torched by various people who claim the work of art represents racism, oppression, and genocide against Native Americans and Mexicans.

“The fact that this piece causes such deep turmoil for so many, those of you who have made this city what it is. It is unacceptable to me. To me, this is a very simple decision,” Commissioner Audrey Rumsby told the Mercury News. The statue’s next resting place will be a storage yard unless a museum or educational institution wants to take it, but so far, no one wants the 12,000-pound statue because of the moving expenses.

“The reality is that this work of art is very large; it is not very portable; it needs to be reconstructed when it is reinstalled. That whole process will be quite expensive,” San Jose cultural affairs director Kerry Adams Hapner told Mercury News. The sculpture is worth an estimated $6,000. The artist who created it, Robert Glen, was offered a chance to buy it but he declined. He did request that the bronze not be melted down.  

The removal of the statue will cause some temporary disruptions downtown. St, James Street will have to be closed so that crews can jackhammer the concrete base and then use a crane to pull it away. It’s unclear when the process would start if the removal recommendation is approved on November 9th.