Caught on camera: Beloved monument in San Jose's Japantown vandalized

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Japantown's community leaders in San Jose are heartbroken after a beloved monument in their neighborhood was vandalized.

"The person takes something out of the backpack and sprays one side, sprays the other side," Pam Yoshida, describing the footage captured by her store's security camera. "They know it's wrong because they hide when cars drive by."

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By Monday morning, the community discovered the damage was done. Yoshida's store security camera captured the crime.

"You just can't believe that somebody would do something like that, to something that represents the struggles and sacrifices of the first generation of any immigrant community," she said.

The 11,000-pound granite stone honors the Issei Pioneers or the first generation of Japanese immigrants to settle in Santa Clara Valley. The rock was gift to San Jose from its sister city in Okayama, Japan.

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"The idea of this granite stone is that it symbolizes the fact that we are resilient," said Jane Kawasaki, a board member with the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose.

The monument is so beloved in the community, some residents have been known to hug the stone as a way to connect with their ancestors, said Yoshida who is also co-president of JCC. Japantown's community leaders hope police will find suspects, but they worry the rock has been permanently damaged.

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"It's very disheartening to have someone just have total disregard for people to want to deface something like this," said Yoshida, who hopes public attention will at least let the suspect know what the monument means to the community.

So far, there is no evidence the crime was racially motivated.
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