By Marlee Ginter

DAVIS (CBS13) – On Sunday, the cars lined up and people handed out posters in Dixon showing their support for Mahatma Gandhi after a statue was vandalized.

“Gandhi is our national figure, world figure. He is for peace,” said Satheesh Nagaraj, a trustee with the Indian Association of Sacramento.

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Nagaraj wants justice after someone vandalized a statue of Gandhi at Central Park in Davis. The 6-foot-tall bronze statue was broken off from its base at the ankles, and the head is still missing.

“So, currently we don’t know who demolished the statue. So we need justice,” Nagaraj said.

“We are here to celebrate Gandhi’s legacy and to condemn the heinous act that occurred in Davis,” one supporter said.

But as their caravan came to a close, they were met with counter-protesters.

“It’s unfair all around for us to believe this false narrative,” said Dr. Prabhjot Singh.

Dr. Singh said any statue of Gandhi doesn’t belong in a public park. Critics have argued that despite Gandhi’s achievements, he had reprehensible character flaws.

“It is absolutely unfair to have such a questionable figure planted in parks,” Singh said. “We’re talking about a pedophile statue.”

Signs in Davis held by opposers read: “No Place For Gandhi In USA” and “Gandhi Was A Child Molester.”

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Supporters still want the vandals caught and the statue reinstated.

“We are a peace-loving community and we want to spread the message of peace,” another supporter said.

“We know that the entire country currently is divided, so we need peace at this moment,” Nagaraj said. “So that’s what we’re looking for at this moment. We’re out for peace. We’re out for non-violence.”

On Saturday, the Indian Government called for an investigation into the vandalism.

“The Government of India strongly condemns this malicious and despicable act against a universally respected icon of peace and justice,” the Indian government said in a news release.

The City of Davis issued a statement on the matter that can be read below:

“The City of Davis condemns the vandalism that destroyed the statue of Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi in Central Park. We do not support any actions that include the destruction of property. We understand that our community reflects a diversity of views and values, but we expect that everyone will extend respect to each other and to shared spaces. We are committed to creating a City that is inclusive and lives up to our principles. We work diligently to ensure the physical and psychological safety of every resident. Acts of destruction are violent and shatter this safety.

We sympathize with those who are grieving the destruction of the statue and promise a thorough investigation and full accountability for those who committed this crime. We sympathize with those who have sincerely voiced their opposition to the statue and who feel unheard. But we reiterate our belief that the solution to solving such differences is never in violent acts but through compromise and dialogue. It is our sincere desire that our community move forward with peaceful and positive discourse and reconciliation.”

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