Posted on February 13, 2021

San Jose Leaders Agree Thomas Fallon Statue Must Be Removed

Lorraine Gabbert, San Jose Spotlight, February 11, 2021

After residents demanded for decades the Thomas Fallon statue, seen as a symbol of oppression by many, be taken from its lofty perch in the center of downtown San Jose, a key panel agreed.

The Rules and Open Government Committee of the San Jose City Council, which sets future City Council agendas, voted unanimously Wednesday to remove the statue.

Following a passionate community meeting last month, Mayor Sam Liccardo said he realized the depth of the pain this public art created for residents. Days later, Liccardo called for the statue’s removal. In a memo to the City Council, the mayor said the statue symbolized the white conquest of Mexican and indigenous communities.

Liccardo said anger has been “righteously expressed” by people whose families have endured generations of systemic racism.

The committee deciding the issue Wednesday includes Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and Councilmembers Sylvia Arenas, Raul Peralez, David Cohen and Dev Davis. {snip}


Kerry Adams Hapner, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said city officials have approved the statue’s removal but it is considered a complex undertaking. {snip}

“For its 30+ year history the Fallon statue has been an activator of community distress, and has resulted in numerous protests, vandalism, and public outcry,” Adams Hapner wrote in her analysis of the project.


The statue of one of San Jose’s first mayors was commissioned in 1988 to memorialize the raising of the U.S. flag in the city in 1846, and now stands at the intersection of West St. James and Julian streets – after being stored in an Oakland warehouse for more than a decade because of criticism.

Fallon is a divisive figure because of his hostile treatment of native people and embodiment of American imperialism.

Resident Paul Soto advocated for the statue to be moved to San Jose History Park. Arenas agreed.

“History is told by those in a position of privilege or who have the appearance of white privilege,” Arenas said. “We need to make sure the statue is properly contextualized in San Jose’s history.”