The weekend after Tuan Pham’s application for a variance for his statue of Jesus was rejected by the city, vandals build and light a big fire around of his statues:
A 7-foot Jesus statue in Tuan Pham’s back yard and at the heart of a zoning dispute was damaged by fire Sunday morning.
Pham and his wife, Mai, awoke for an early church service to see a blaze enveloping the marble statue Pham had imported and erected in his prayer garden beside the Mississippi River bluff. A pile of nail-studded wood had been stacked around the statue’s base and lit on fire.
Welcome to America…
Pham, 75, put on a coat, ran outside and tried to move the burning 2-by-4s away from his beloved statue. A daughter called police, comforted her mother and began snapping photos.
The incident has left the family distraught but more determined to keep the statue in its current spot — one that the St. Paul City Council says is closer to the edge of the bluff than city rules permit.
“God never gave up,” Pham said. “So I follow him.”
“It’s a sign,” said Pham’s daughter, Sylvie Phan. “God wants his name to be known.”
It’s a sign, all right – of lots of things.
On top of what the Phams have seen, it’s a sign of what life is like for anyone who bucks the status quo in Saint Paul. From a St. Paul community forum:
The fire that was set was quite large, but could not destroy his statue, so the arsonists decided to trash some of the other statuary in the yard.
The police were called, of course, but refused to investigate. Tuan was told to come to the station on Monday and fill out a report…arson and hate crime, not a big deal in St. Paul, I guess.
The statue is 3′ INSIDE the yard fence, but evidently Bucky Thune (who was named by Mr. Pham as a lead antagonist) found an ordinance that would force the Phams to move the statue 2’…two fucking feet.
That means the entire grotto would have to be dismantled, which of course is the goal.
Looking up and down the bluff, one can see sheds, swing sets and all manner of constructions closer to the bluff than Tuan’s statue. But Christ has gotta go.
Look – we don’t know who set the fire.
But I would feel comfortable betting money it’ll end up being some hanger-on from the Twin Cities left.