The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted to remove the Thomas Fallon statue from downtown.
Fallon is credited with being the first person to raise the American flag in the city, but critics say it came at a high human cost.
Supporters said the statue stands majestically on Julian Street, just north of downtown. American flag in hand during the Mexican-American War, Fallon become one of the first mayors of San Jose.
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"When I see statues like this, these are the people that conquered America, killed indigenous people, raped indigenous people, and they have no place here," John Arciga of San Jose said.
In 1988, activists demanded the city erect other public art first – art that they felt better represented the area.
So, a large table in honor of educator Ernesto Galarzo went up. Then the city built Founders Park, or Parque De Los Pobladores.
After two other ethnic projects were completed, the Fallon statue finally went up in 2002, but the stigma remained.
"He was really unscrupulous, unethical, immoral, and he was a liar," community activist Kathy Chavez-Napoli said.
Chavez-Napoli was one of those who spearheaded the fight against the statue more than 30 years ago.
"I really think it should be melted down," Chavez-Napoli said. "I don’t think there’s any way that it can be rehabilitated."
The council can vote to put it back in storage or it could decide to loan it to museums or universities.