As she was in life, Rose Pak is controversial even in death. The local political power-broker passed away in September at the age of 68, and was quickly mourned and honored by the many in San Francisco whose lives she impacted. As a means to highlight her efforts to bring the Central Subway to Chinatown, following her death the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution urging the SFMTA to name the subway's Chinatown Station after Pak. The Ingleside-Excelsior Light reports that this hasn't gone over so well with everyone, and now a group of protesters has asked the SFMTA Citizens’ Advisory Council to not follow the Board's recommendation — and compared the late Pak to a Nazi propagandist in the process.
Ten people attended the October SFMTA meeting to protest a possible future naming of the station after Pak, one of whom called Pak the “San Francisco version of Julius Streicher.” Julius Streicher was the founder and publisher of Der Stürmer, a propaganda paper in Nazi Germany.
Their complaints stem from what they believe was Pak promoting the Chinese Communist Party's view of Falun Gong — which, depending on who you ask, is either a form of meditation, a religion, or a cult. The Chinese government has outlawed the practice and prosecuted its practitioners, and the individuals speaking at the October meeting say Pak worked to keep the Falun Gong out of the city’s Chinese New Year’s Parade. This account is partially backed up by a 2006 report in the LA Times detailing her battle with then Supervisor Chris Daly over the matter.
Keka Robinson-Luqman, the SFMTA Citizens’ Advisory Council secretary, informed the protesters that SFMTA doesn't actually have a policy for naming stations after people. "There is no standard [for naming the station]," the Ingleside-Excelsior Light reports Robinson-Luqman as explaining. "Stations have traditionally been named after streets, so this will be the first time [a station is named after a person].”
As with the Central Subway itself, whose construction has taken years, the protest against honoring Pak with a station name will likely continue for some time.