Guest Commentary: Davis’ Central Park Eyesore

By Andrew Majeske

Why you may ask, is there this fenced-off, boarded-up area in Davis’ Central Park, directly adjacent to the children’s playground?

Photo by Andrew Majeske, February 7, 2024

What treasure has the City been concealing for so long that the plywood walls have become discolored and warped, creating a major eyesore?

It turns out that hidden behind this ugly, makeshift barrier, is the base that once supported the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which was given to Davis in 2016 by the Indian Government.

Photo by Andrew Majeske, September 8, 2023

In January of 2021 vandals sawed off this statue at the ankles and decapitated it.

Photo Credit, ABC 10

The City of Davis decided in July of 2021 to replace the toppled statue when it adopted the recommendation of a special committee that it had formed in the wake of the vandalism. The replacement statue, the committee recommended, would be designed differently, depicting a sitting Gandhi rather than the original standing one.

Photo Credit, Davis Enterprise, 7/21/21

The highly questionable reasoning given for the change in design was that the replacement statue would be more difficult to saw down—it would have fewer structural weak points. (“Council Supports New Gandhi Statue in Central Park”, Davis Enterprise, 7/21/21).

Unfortunately, the special committee appointed by the Davis City Council did not meaningfully engage the controversy that led vandals to topple the statue—the committee simply recommended replacing the toppled statue with one more difficult to tear down.

It is difficult to trace the ongoing history of the controversy behind the statue’s toppling, a history that is so fraught that it is preventing any movement on the replacement statue.* A current Davis City Council person reports that the matter of the replacement Gandhi statue has not even been discussed by the Council during this council member’s tenure.

Let us therefore demand that the Davis City Council publicly declare what they intend to do in the matter of the Gandhi replacement statue. And whatever the solution, let us compel the Council to act quickly to remove the eyesore that has marred our Central Park for more than three years now.

Andrew Majeske

* To fill in this contextual gap, the author of this letter prepared a short presentation for a college class he teaches. This presentation details the history of the controversy surrounding Davis’ Gandhi statue, and how the Davis situation relates more broadly to an ongoing reassessment of Gandhi’s legacy. This presentation can be found on YouTube at the following link: hKps://youtu.be/AFDVYBEuk8A

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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