Ogawa monument vandalized during Oakland protest

The monument of the late Japanese American civic leader, Frank H. Ogawa, was vandalized in an Oakland, Calif. protest for racial justice July 25.

DEFACED ­— The Frank Ogawa bust in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, Calif. was defaced July 25 during a protest. photo by/courtesy of Phillip Tagami

“The bust was defaced with paint and subsequently cleaned quickly,” Sean Maher, the public information officer for the city of Oakland’s Public Works and Transportation departments, said in an e-mail to the Nichi Bei Weekly.

Ogawa was the first Japanese American on the Oakland City Council, serving from 1966-1994.

Matt Ogawa, the grandson of the former Oakland city council member, told the Nichi Bei Weekly by phone that he was “kind of shocked” by the vandalism, adding he knew how much his “grandfather wanted to do right by people that were falling victim to social injustice…”

After expressing appreciation for a Facebook post condemning the monument’s defacement, Ogawa said he began receiving messages from people saying, “Asians don’t really have anything to do with the reason why the protests were happening” and that he was “making too big of a deal” of the defacement.

The younger Ogawa is trying to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by doing volunteer work and nonprofit and charity work in the Asian American and Japanese American communities.

“Social injustice is something I feel is extremely important,” along with “giving minorities a voice and a seat at the table,” Ogawa said.

Larry Reid, Oakland’s vice mayor, said the people who defaced Ogawa’s monument “don’t know what he stood for.” Reid, who was Ogawa’s first staff person in 1985, said he was “personally offended” to hear Ogawa’s monument was vandalized.

“Frank has always been special to this city,” Reid commented.

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