By Jane Northrop
A movement has swept the country to remove statutes of former Confederate slaveholders who held positions of honor in their communities. In Pacifica, that movement is playing out with the statue of Captain Gaspar de Portola at the Pacifica Community Center in the parking lot facing Highway 1.
Portola eventually discovered the San Francisco Bay after setting up a camp near where the statue stands in Pacifica and by climbing up to Sweeney Ridge. The statue was given to the State of California by the Catelonia region of Spain in 1988, Portola’s birthplace, according to the city of Pacifica website.
Danielle Redlin, and others, hope to have the statue removed to better deflect his honor onto recognition of the indigenous tribes, the Native American communities, who helped Portola and the other European settlers survive and whose lives were forever changed.
“I hope to achieve social justice by removing the statue from a context of public honor. My aim is to be unabashedly honest about the history of the land we live on. When I tell any truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know, but for the sake of defending those that do,” she said.
The petition to remove the statue of “colonizer Portola” she has been circulating has more than 3,250 signatures, many from Pacifica and the Bay Area, The petition has been endorsed by the Association of the Ramaytush Ohlone, Pacifica Peace People and Pacifica Social Justice Group. See an op-ed on the issue on Page A5.
“We have been waiting two months to get a direct answer from the city. We have been told the city is awaiting a report on the ownership to be completed. We are currently awaiting their response on when the report on ownership Is expected to be complete and who is directing that response,” she said.
A query to City Manager Kevin Woodhouse about who owns the statue and in which jurisdiction a hearing about its removal might be held led to a correspondence with Alejandro Lopez, CalTrans public information officer for San Mateo County.
“I am working to get a response to your questions,” he said.
(Jane Northrop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)