CERRITOS (CBSLA.com) — An activist group in Cerritos is stepping up efforts to convince city officials to remove a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Members of the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) first petitioned Mayor Bruce Barrows and the City Council in July to remove the statue located outside the Chugh Law Firm at the corner of Carmenita Road and Alondra Boulevard.
Created in 2012 by artist Jasu Shilpi, the 6-foot-tall bronze statue of Gandhi – who is credited with leading India’s movement for independence from British colonialism – is listed under the “Gallery of Public Artwork” on the city’s website.
In a letter dated July 24, OFMI’s Arvin Valmuc claimed to be “deeply offended by civic celebration of a man whose legacy is so repugnant to the American way of life” and urged officials to stop the planned re-installation of the statue, which had been temporarily removed to repair damages sustained by vandalism.
The letter cited a 2010 article in The Independent, which alleges Gandhi forced his 17-year-old great-niece Manu and 18-year-old great-niece Abha to share his bed while naked “on a daily basis over a period of years.”
Valmuci also alleges Gandhi “psychologically abused his deathly sick wife” by denying her access to medicine before her death in February 1944, and even “sent a lengthy letter directly to Adolf Hitler” on December 24, 1940, which began, “Dear Friend” and appeared to signal sympathy for the Nazi dictator.
Representatives of OFMI were expected to seek an official response at the City Council meeting on Thursday night.
“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?”
A rally was also planned for Saturday at 11 a.m outside City Hall.