Gandhi Statue in Davis Draws Criticism

DAVIS -- Hundreds of people came out to Central Park in Davis on Sunday for the unveiling of a new statue of Mahatma Ghandi statue, but not everyone was happy the city put up the controversial figure, which was a gift from the Indian government.

"They want you to believe, and they want Davis to believe, about this peaceful myth when Gandhi was really an agent for sexism, horrible bigotry, and they just don't want people in Davis to know about that, and we're here to change that," said Amar Shergill, a protester who takes issue with celebrating a man who supported Apartheid and had questionable views on race, religion and women during his lifetime.

But more important, Shergill said he takes issue with who paid for the statue.

"Today in India, minorities are being brutalized, raped murdered, assaulted and this statue attempts to obscure that truth," he said.

"This statue is a gift from the Indian government. But it was the community members here that raised the money for the installation and the pedestal, the upkeep," said Madhavi Sunder, who served on the committee to bring the statue and said its part of an effort to teach more about Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence. "He has inspired movements around the world, from India to South Africa to our own civil rights movement here."

Davis' Mayor Robb Davis said the city expected the protesters.

"I think they're doing what is in their interest, which is to try and get people to talk, I don't think it's really about Gandhi, but to talk about Indian history... Most Americans don't know anything about it," Davis said.

But Davis points out Gandhi is not a religious figure, questioning the protesters' claim the statue violates separation of church and state.

"I think his teaching is based on religious principals but so is Martin Luther King Jr.'s, and we've put plenty of statues of him," Davis said.

Although some protesters had signs with phrases  like "Gandhi was a child molester," Sunder said she welcomes the dialog.

"Gandhi may have been wrong on things, but that doesn't mean that we should reject all of the incredible teachings," Sunder told FOX40.