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Opponents of Cerritos Gandhi statue plan Saturday demonstration at City Hall

September 12, 2013 | By

Cerritos, CA, (September 12, 2013): Believing the City of Cerritos has turned a deaf ear to a public concern, a group working since July to organize local residents opposed to a controversy-beset Gandhi statue now plans to demonstrate for its removal outside City Hall this coming Saturday.

Organization for Minorities of India announced Wednesday it will demonstrate for the statue’s removal at 11am on September 14 outside the Cerritos City Hall. OFMI is also coordinating locals to speak against the statue at Thursday evening’s City Council Meeting. “The city will not stop hearing from us until it begins listening to us,” said Arvin Valmuci, a spokesman for the group. “Our protests will end the moment the city withdraws its approval from this monstrous statue.”

Los Cerritos News and Fox Channel 11 TV News have provided in-depth coverage of the controversy. Support for removing the statue, located outside the Chugh Law Firm on Carmenita Road, has spread throughout the area over the past two months as opponents feel increasingly alarmed by what they perceive as the city’s failure to properly address their concerns. Mayor Bruce Barrows provided the only formal response to the issue in an August 5 letter to OFMI, in which he confirmed: “[The Chugh Firm] was required to provide a statue or monetary contribution as a part of the Art In Public Places Program…. The City Council received and approved the statue.”

Bhajan Singh, director of OFMI, noted: “If the city initiated the requirement and subsequently approved the statue, then they bear responsibility. If the city hadn’t compelled Chugh Law Firm to make a donation to its Art in Public Places Program, none of this would have ever happened. Now Cerritos citizens are faced with the unfortunate statue of Gandhi, who has nothing to do with the USA and the truth of whose life is actually repulsive to most Americans.”

Cerritos City Council Meetings allot a beginning portion for remarks by the public and allow five minutes of commentary per person. OFMI representatives plan to attend and present a report about Gandhi’s dark history to all five councilmembers. “We will make three main points,” said Valmuci. “First, why is the city council not responding to our documented points about Gandhi’s background? Second, why did the city approve installation of a statue of a religious icon? Third, why is the city violating its own ‘intent and purpose’ for the Art in Public Places Program?”

Valmuci cited the opening statement of City of Cerritos’ Municipal Code Section 22 stating: “The purpose of the city of Cerritos art in public places program is to promote the general welfare by encouraging pride in the community, increasing property values, enhancing the quality of life through artistic opportunities, uniting the community through shared cultural experiences.” His response? “The Gandhi statue impedes the general welfare by promoting a shameful icon, endangers our quality of life by implicitly supporting the intolerance to which he devoted his life, and divides the community.”

Representing African-American, Caucasian, and South Asian communities, five speakers are scheduled for Saturday’s protest: Jada Bernard, Pieter Singh, and M. R. Paul, Dr. S. Muni, and Bhajan Singh. Speakers are expected to invoke the same reasons for opposing the Gandhi statue given from the beginning, namely: Gandhi cultivated a friendship with Hitler, sexually abused and exploited his grandnieces, promoted racial segregation of blacks in South Africa, was nominated and rejected for a Nobel Peace Prize five times, tried bribing a Southern Californian woman to keep silent about her husband’s murder by his followers, and was instrumental in perpetuating the practice of caste in South Asian society.

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and other minorities of South Asian origin, particularly those marginalized by the Hindu caste system. OFMI encourages secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

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