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Korean American Council Member Not Allowed to Speak at Santa Clara #StopAsianHate Rally

A rally organized by Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Council Member Kathy Watanabe Wednesday afternoon that was supposed to demonstrate solidarity with Asian Americans, ended up instead, as one bystander put it, “undid everything this event was supposed to promote.”

When Council Member Kevin Park — Santa Clara’s first Korean American Council Member — asked Watanabe if he could say a few words, after looking towards Mayor Gillmor as if expecting a cue, she replied, “I, uh, no you can’t. This is my event.”

She then added curtly, “Thank you for being here. I appreciate the support.”

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Watanabe reportedly issued a statement to TV news media that there wasn’t time for Park to speak because he didn’t RSVP and the event permit wouldn’t allow the rally to run past an hour.

But that isn’t the full story, according to Park and others who were there. One person there said that people were still hanging around more than an hour after the event concluded.

Evidently, Gillmor and Watanabe initially scheduled the event at the Northside Library without inviting other Council Members.

“I received a screenshot about the event a few days ago [before the event] asking if I was part of it and I never heard about it,” said Park.

The day before the rally Park finally got an invitation. He responded that he was a ‘maybe’ because the event was during the workday. Ultimately, he was able to attend.

Most of the speakers were scheduled, but Park says that several others were not. Members of the City’s Diversity Task Force, he said, were clearly not expected, but were nonetheless given time to speak.

Park waited for other speakers to finish before he indicated he wished to speak briefly. I didn’t want to take anyone else’s time.

“I was surprised at the coarseness of her response,” Park said. “You don’t have to agree with someone to be polite to them.”

“I think something to be mindful of,” said District 25 State Assembly Member Alex Lee who saw the exchange between Park and Watanabe, “is that solidarity means amplifying voices, not speaking over voices.”

In that spirit, The Weekly would like to share with the community the one-minute statement that Council Member Park prepared but was not allowed to read on Wednesday afternoon.

 

March 31, 2021 Statement by District 4 Santa Clara City Council Member Kevin Park

I am Asian by background. I was born in the United States. The first language I learned, and my primary language, is English.

Until about five years ago, I considered myself Asian American. After marrying my wife, who comes from Korea, and having a young daughter whose first language is Korean, I realize I am American Asian, with the American first, and in capital letters. I am learning more and more every day how much I don’t know about their experience.

It is not enough to ask, or even demand respect. We must support the processes that make people equal, not just repeat the social acknowledgements that we should be equal.

#StopAsianHate and Black Lives Matter are current and historic movements, centered around events that highlight the ethnicity of victims. And they are based on the history of our country and our culture of immigration: inviting the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

But let’s be clear. Equality and the political issues that enable, prevent, and surround it, will always be a struggle.

Let us find ways to be inclusive and find similarities, be proud of our differences but united in equality. Equal respect. Equal opportunity, equal protection, and eventually, equal representation.

Editor’s Note: Our full coverage of this event is coming soon.

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15 Comments
  1. HB 7 months ago
    Reply

    Very funny. A white Karen scold telling an actual Asian person that he couldn’t speak at a stop Asian Hate rally.

  2. CSC 7 months ago
    Reply

    The old guard still pissed that minorities made it to the City Council. I can’t stress this enough…
    1. Immediately start building a strong campaign to elect current Vice Mayor Raj Chahal as City Major in 2022.
    2. Start looking for a strong City Council Candidate to backfill District 2.
    3. Reelect Karen Hardy in 2022.
    4. *Highly Important* Start the motion to change city charter of appointing a police chief rather than voting for one.

    • A Voter 7 months ago
      Reply

      > The old guard still pissed that minorities made it to the City Council. I can’t stress this enough…

      Um, that is not why. They are upset because the new councilmembers were bought and paid for by the 49ers, to push their agenda. Old guard, new folks, I don’t care. I want people who work hard for the residents, not Jed York.

      Race has ZERO to do with it.

      • CSC 6 months ago
        Reply

        For anyone reading the reply by “A Voter”, all council members running for a seat in 2020 confirmed that none of them had endorsements nor did they directly receive campaign contributions from the 49ers or Jed York connected foundations.

        On the other hand, both Lisa Gillmor and Kathy Watanabe are water carriers for the Santa Clara POA PAC https://www.svvoice.com/police-unions-spend-big-for-political-influence-and-santa-clara-is-no-slacker/

        • Another SC Resident 6 months ago
          Reply

          For anyone reading the reply by “CSC”, the city clerk confirmed that two council members (Park and Becker) elected in 2020 indirectly received campaign support from the 49ers and Jed York connected foundations.
          https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/departments-a-f/city-clerk-s-office/election-information/november-2020-election
          “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

          • Bothered 6 months ago

            You are interpreting the city filings the way it suits you, and the mayor. None of the 3 new councilmembers received a cent from the 49ers which I’m sure you are aware of.

            You and the mayor sound like idiots who follow that last guy. You just keep repeating the lies so that she and Watanabe will look like victims. They are far from victims! They pushed hard to have the team here and now they need to suck it up or gtfo!

  3. Mark 7 months ago
    Reply

    Like 👍 Kevin’s “American Asian” instead of Asian American. Americans are Americans so no need to have Asian first. Hope it becomes mainstream for everyone, American and then your heritage.

  4. SC Voter 7 months ago
    Reply

    Kevin Park voted to not fund the police Department. His voice shouldn’t matter when it comes to crime against anyone, including against Asian Americans.

    He also is too scared to show his face on the city council meetings, another reason why you shouldn’t listen to what he says. What politician gets elected and refuses to show their face?! It’s one that is scared to be seen in public because he goes against what his voters in his area want.

    And when he does speak, it’s out of line and probably violating some city labor laws like at the council meeting in March. He’s going to get the city sued because he opened his mouth inappropriately.

    DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS IDIOT!

    • Jean 6 months ago
      Reply

      So using your theory, Kathy can act this way because it’s all Jed York’s fault. Everything is Jed York’s fault. Well Kathy and Lisa brought the 49ers here. So where should the fingers be pointed? Also you watch more council meetings. Your favorite council person Watanabe turns her camera off quite a lot when speaking. Find a new argument. Yours doesn’t hold up.

  5. Representation Matters 7 months ago
    Reply

    Representation matters as history shows us….Santa Clara has a history of racism for decades, white people telling everyone we are not racist….

  6. jbyronflecklaw@comcast.net 6 months ago
    Reply

    $5MM of Santa Clara resident money to keep Asian American residents in their place. How’d that work out?

  7. Ben 6 months ago
    Reply

    If only Mr. Park talked to Watanabe a few minutes before, not hijacking her at the exact moment when she is about to adjourn the speaking.

    • A Voter 6 months ago
      Reply

      Mr. Park intentionally didn’t RSVP, and showed up at the end to cause a disruption. He was hoping for some conflict so he could go to the press and politicize it. Unfortunately, Ms. Watanabe took the bait.

      • H. Myers 6 months ago
        Reply

        A Voter, why does everyone make this about race? Why can’t Ms Watanabe turn him down because he is Kevin Park? I was a big supporter of Mr. Park in the past and made the first contribution to his first City Council Campaign because I believed as he did. but time passes and his views changed to the point I no longer support him. So if Ms Watanabe wants to turn him down because he is Kevin Park she has that right w/o the cancel culture trying to shut her up.

  8. Another SC Resident 6 months ago
    Reply

    As an Asian American, I think SVVoice is making this about race to drive website traffic. It’s clearly not – Kathy Watanabe is married to an Asian. They had a lineup of speakers, and he expected to just be able to pick up the mic because he’s a council member. Common courtesy dictates he would have contacted Councilmember Watanabe beforehand. That being said, in the past I considered supporting Kevin Park, but can no longer. He’s too arrogant for me, and his behavior in this matter just reinforces my opinion.

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