San Jose Mayor Recommends Removal of Thomas Fallon Statue

For the third time in as many decades, San Jose has grappled with whether to remove a statue of Thomas Fallon. Only this time, it looks like the city will go through with it.

Mayor Sam Liccardo this morning issued a formal recommendation to uproot the bronze likeness of Fallon—who in 1846 planted an American flag in the city’s soil to claim the land from Mexico. The decision comes just days after the city held a public forum on the statue’s fate in which scores of community members criticized it as a glorification of colonialism, white supremacy and genocide.

It also comes months after the statue was vandalized amid a nationwide reckoning over racial justice and broader conversation about who should be memorialized in public art.

Liccardo explained his rationale for removal in a lengthy Medium post and subsequent memo, which he told reporters would be his final comment on the matter in the interest of moving on to address the city’s pressing challenges.

“San Jose has many urgent and critical priorities at this moment: a pandemic, a deep recession, and an affordable housing crisis, among others,” he wrote in the memo released earlier today. “They deserve our undivided attention. They also require the strength and focus of an undivided community.”

Removing the statue has nothing to do with “rewriting” or “erasing” history, he adds.

“History is what it is, and every passing generation reconsiders its interpretation of that record, in light of the evolving values and sensibilities of the age,” Liccardo went on to write. “Statues in museums teach history; statues in prominent outdoor spaces glorify history, often without reflection. We should reconsider what we glorify.”

City officials say it will cost somewhere on the order of $400,000 to remove the statue.

The Latino Leadership Alliance (LLA), of which Councilman Raul Peralez is a member, applauded the mayor’s recommendation.

In a statement shared with San Jose Inside, the LLA said it “stands with the community on this issue and supports the removal of this statue.”

“Representation matters, particularly with public art that is seen by all every day,” the group wrote. “There is a responsibility to the community to ensure that the work is inclusive. The city has a real opportunity here to do right by its residents.”

“We hope it will.”

Click here to read the mayor’s memo in its entirety.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

33 Comments

  1. And yet there’s no rush to scoop up the embarrassing turd that sits where Fallon was originally supposed to stand. SMH.

  2. Sam, suggest you break the f*c*ing thing up! Then you’ll not have time to play politics again over this issue.

  3. > San Jose Mayor Recommends Removal of Thomas Fallon Statue

    Why not remove the American flag as well.

    Just a rebranding of the original Thirteen Colonies.

    Put Black Lives Matter in charge, and then we can be a colony of black Africa.

  4. okay then…

    next on decolonizing CA would be to

    change in city names of San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, followed by the destruction of all mission building and records of missions

    since the spanish were the original colonizers we should ban the teaching and speaking of the language as well, after of course we rename every public building, street, and place name to some other language than the colonizers

    oh and we should destroy all catholic churchs and schools and any hospital orginally constructed by the catholic church

    because colonization

    dont you people see how much of a waste of time all this is and a distraction from real matters at hand?

    when will you grow up and be adults and face your problems?

  5. Of course he would pander to the sick “woke” and other crazed leftist crowd, again.

  6. Who is LEGALLY the owner of the Fallon statue?

    Even if the San Jose Taliban doesn’t like it, it’s still a valuable work of art and MUST be preserved.

    If the City is not going to provide it a dignified and respected venue, it should be donated to the National Statuary Garden of Artistic and Cultural Freedom.

    Probably destined to be one of the largest tourist destinations in the American landscape.

  7. I recommend the removal of Liccardo.

    This guy is good for nothing but pandering to special interest and has no interest in the majority of the city residence.

    How many complaints do we need to remove the the dinosaur dung statue from downtown?

  8. Isn’t it revealing how the Whitish libs (libertarians, that is, the bulk of the commentators above) always attack Liccardo and the Bluish libs (neoliberals, that is) on social issues like race, gender, identity, masks, vaccinations, etc. but never attack the Blue libs for their slavish service to property owners, landlords, bankers, corporate chiefs and their inability to break the Police Officers Association’s grip on policing policy in the City, policy that should rightfully be the purview of elected City officials?

    Just in the past two years the Blue libs on the council, in bi-partisan alliance with ex-Republican members Khamis and Davis, were responsible for surrendering tens of millions in present and future city revenues to downtown developers (https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2019/09/25/sj-council-extends-high-rise-housing-incentives-on-split-vote/; https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-city-council-whopping-break-for-high-rise-developers/) and tens of millions more in forgone revenues from the piddly commercial linkage fees they passed (https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-city-council-commercial-linkage-fee-gaining-favor-ahead-of-vote/).

    The conclusion to be drawn is that the libs really like the libs in power if it means the latter will protect the income and wealth of the former. That’s the signal, the rest is noise.

    Nothing like owning the libs on a fine sunny winter morning.

  9. $400,000 to remove it? Tell Sammy boy I’ll do it for half as much and you’ll never see, or worry about it again.

  10. ECONOCLAST

    “The conclusion to be drawn is that the libs really like the libs in power if it means the latter will protect the income and wealth of the former. That’s the signal, the rest is noise.”

    EXACTLY!!!!

    This is my purpose for even participating on these blogs, a long held resentment against this exact thing. The hypocrisy of dumping on landlord while your 1970s Ranch has a market value of 1.5M is red-line level. Now if the “libs” where doing everything they could to make housing cheaper and the landlords where some how using political clout to block it, fine. However, I can say unequivocally, mom and pop landlords have no political clout.

    The “libs” make it near impossible to build with a laundry list of fees, boundaries, and redundant environment protections, then to wave in every poor person in the western hemisphere, constraining supply and inflating demand driving the cost of housing through the roof for their benefit. Then single out landlords because they make a nice scapegoat is downright BS.

    Either deal with the supply issues in a constructive (pun intended) manner or stop whining about the cost of rent, don’t try to play cute with counterproductive price controls and ghettoization of the poor.

  11. Here’s the easiest solution: just rename the sculpture “Men on Horses.” No one will ever be able to recognize any person’s face in this sculpture with a name applied to it. And a new nameplate will be a lot cheaper than relocating the whole thing!

  12. Ah ‘ the never ending search for the perfect person continues .

    San Jose is drowning in filth and our leaders are concerned about statues . No wonder this has become a third world country .

  13. But wait! This whole thing is inside out logic. The Spanish and by extension the Catholic church were the colonizers. Thomas Fallon helped liberate California from the Spanish and the Catholics. Tear down all the catholic churches, food pantries, hospitals, et al as well as any statue of a Spanish or Catholic oppressor like Junipero Serra. Make sure you purge any words or place names with Spanish origins from the state too.

  14. SJ KULAK Feb 4, 2021 @ 10:51 am
    This is my purpose for even participating on these blogs, a long held resentment against this exact thing. The hypocrisy of dumping on landlord while your 1970s Ranch has a market value of 1.5M is red-line level. Now if the “libs” where doing everything they could to make housing cheaper and the landlords where some how using political clout to block it, fine. However, I can say unequivocally, mom and pop landlords have no political clout.

    The “libs” make it near impossible to build with a laundry list of fees, boundaries, and redundant environment protections, then to wave in every poor person in the western hemisphere, constraining supply and inflating demand driving the cost of housing through the roof for their benefit. Then single out landlords because they make a nice scapegoat is downright BS.

    No political clout? You must be kidding! The political clout is negative. My 97 year old mother in law has a 5 unit complex. She has kept her rent levels steady for 8-10 years depending on the unit to ensure people of lower income can afford a place to stay. She now has 2 units who no longer pay rent and one that is about 3 months behind (it may be 4 by now). But she has no recourse. She can not evict. She can not impose late fees. Her political clout has put her on the edge of bankruptcy. The 2 units that do pay just barely cover her mortgage and repairs. Her retirement savings are almost gone just paying her food and utilities. And our new great leader’s “relief” plan doesn’t include rental vouchers or any other meaningful rent help for tennants but it is OK to send $100s of millions to large corporations and other entities that do not need the money.

  15. I can’t believe what’s happen to San Jose and by “people” that don’t even know their history I’m an 8th generation “Californio” My grandfather was born an American Citizen, his father my great-grandfather was born a Mexican Citizen, and his father my great-great grandfather was born a Spanish Subject, all born here in California. When the flag changed the people had the choice to relocate to one of Spain’s territories or cross the border into Mexico. Those that stayed would be recognized as American Citizens. My ancestors were among the Fundadores de Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe November 29, 1777.

  16. Robyn, “Return California to Mexico”, you say? I think that ship has already sailed. California’s population: 39% of state residents are Latino, 37% are white, 15% are Asian American, 6% are African American, 3% are multiracial, and fewer than 1% are American Indian or Pacific Islander. Just turn the statue of Fallon around until it’s facing Texas or South Dakota because that’s where all of “his kind” are going now anyway.

    Fallon wasn’t even an American; He was born in Ireland and raised in Canada. He did fight in the Mexican-American War in 1846 but his big claim to fame was crossing the Santa Cruz mountains and capturing what is now San Jose, but he did so without bloodshed. Fallon killed fewer people than are killed in the usual Antifa riot.

    Just melt the statue down and reconstitute it as a statue in the form of a homeless man pushing a shopping cart full of trash and dedicate this statue at “The Tomb of The Unknown Wino”. Place that statue under any freeway overpass in San Jose. It will blend right in.

  17. I’ve been wishing for years that the Fallon statue would be removed. That, and the Columbus statue in city hall. Is that still there? Hope not.

  18. Ms Martinez,

    Thank you for the comment and thank you to your family’s work and sacrifice over the centuries. For better or worse, California is home to tens of millions of people who live better than almost any human being ever born. I wish your family good fortune as we journey into the future.

  19. HMW, Yes, negative clout is more accurate. I am sorry to hear about your Grandmother, I have seen many buildings in San Jose run this way by mom and pops and it makes them very vulnerable to these distortions to the benefit of large corporate investors.

  20. Put a couple of sombreros on it call it Poncho Villa rides, everyone will be happy.
    Who the hell gave a bunch of white ass Mexican’s the right to claim the entire South West US as theirs?
    A bunch of white ass Spaniards with names like Cortez!
    Hey Sandy, who’s your Daddy?

  21. The Fallon statue must not be removed. It was kept in storage for years at a very high cost in a deal with detractors so that first several public art pieces could be set in place that commemorated the pre-1850 period, among those pieces the snake god (to whom thousands of humans were sacrificed by a cruel primitive society) in Chavez plaza and the pobladores kiosk at Gore Park near Reed St. In good faith the public who wanted the Fallon statue waited. Supporters even rolled over to have it shuffled off to its present out of the way place. So just leave in its out of the way place near the Captain’s home on San Pedro. I think that the anger seen directed to the statue, this symbol, is from those who hate America. What the statue commemorates is the raising of our beautiful flag. Fallon’s was the second and lasting attempt, as a previous flag raised days before by James Stokes was ripped down. Where are the leaders and members of E Clampus Vitus; is there no protest from the local chapter of the California Pioneers; do the Preservation Action Council members have no care for this emblem of local history? They have shown great zeal to save neon signs and old houses. I think this is one instance when people and groups who love our area and advocate for its history unite against this vocal small group of haters and say, “You’re not coming for this one”!

  22. Beautifully stated, Tim. Those who want this statue removed are basing their gripes on revisionist history. Unfortunately, this statue has become a third rail issue and no person or group with influence is willing to touch it.

    This whole situation is a sad commentary on the pathetic legacy of spineless “leadership” in this town, which deserves the lack of recognition it has suffered since it was the state capital. I am beyond disgusted.

  23. Well said Tim and beautifully stated Martin.
    Why does San Jose’s leadership “Cow Down” to these “Rent a Mob” groups of people that don’t even know or understand history. “Love it or Leave it”

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