Local social justice and equity leaders gathered Monday in Horton Plaza to urge city officials to remove the statue of former San Diego Mayor and California Gov. Pete Wilson, whose decision to support Proposition 187 in 1994 made him a controversial figure.
Wilson’s statue has been standing in downtown San Diego for the past 13 years and advocates say that it should be taken down because of the Republican’s “dehumanizing” policies.
“We need to stand up for what is right. We need to make sure that we are not silent, that we need to speak out and that’s why we want that statue to be taken down,” said Enrique Morones of Gente Unida.
Prop. 187 was a 1994 proposal in California that would have denied undocumented immigrants from receiving state aid and would have established a state-run citizenship screening system. Wilson, who was elected for a second term as state governor during that year, championed for the measure.
“We need to remove this statue in honor of the people who Pete Wilson has unconstitutionally tried to oppress with Proposition 187,” Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition said.
In addition to Wilson’s hard stance on illegal immigration, activists said the former San Diegan refused to meet leaders in the LGBTQ community when he was mayor.
“Pete Wilson, when he was mayor, would not even meet with the Gay community,” said Nicole Murray-Ramirez of the National GLBT Network. “He would say, when Gays wanted to meet in the 70s, that there was not a gay constituency in San Diego.”
While activists made it clear how they felt about the politician’s statue, a representative for Wilson said he “has a more than 50-year track record of helping all San Diegans and Californians of every race and creed.”
“In his public service, he has supported policies that have greatly benefitted some of our most disadvantaged populations,” the statement read. “His public policy record, compassion, and government successes are second to no public servant alive today. Regarding the individuals at today’s media event, it is sad that we have become a cancel culture, simply tear down, shut down or disregard. We are happy to match our 50-year record of public service to the rhetoric of ultraliberal activists.”
Monday’s rally was a joint effort by Gente Unida, the National GLBT Network, North County Racial Justice Coalition, LISC San Diego, Activist San Diego, the Chicano Federation and D4CC.