The arrest of a woman near a rally in Redwood City on Sept. 25 led to the discovery of evidence that the same woman had also allegedly taken part in the defacement and arson of a monument in San Jose two days earlier, police said.
On Friday, Oct. 2, 30-year-old Jesilyn Faust was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of felony vandalism and arson in connection with the attack on the Thomas Fallon monument in the area of Julian Street and Highway 87 in San Jose on Wednesday, Sept. 23, according to police. A longtime source of controversy in the community, the statue, which was commissioned in 1988, depicts San Jose’s 10th mayor raising the U.S. flag in the city in 1846 during the early period of the Mexican-American War.
Police say Faust was among a group of protesters who gathered at the statue at about 9 p.m. that night, about the same time as a Breonna Taylor rally was being held in the city. The group defaced the monument with spray paint and set it on fire with an accelerant, police said. Faust is one of two suspects arrested in connection with the incident.
San Jose police say they were able to connect Faust to the vandalism following her arrest two days later in Redwood City, near to where a “Back the Blue” rally was being held at Courthouse Square. At the time of Faust’s initial arrest, Redwood City police say they had been monitoring the rally after receiving reports that individuals had planned to cause disruption. Officers initially detained Faust for walking on the street and impeding traffic near the rally. During the encounter with officers, Faust was forcibly handcuffed and arrested on charges of obstructing, delaying or resisting a peace officer. The encounter was partially captured on video and shared to social media, leading to controversy over whether Faust’s arrest and the subsequent search of her backpack were justified.
In her backpack, officers found a handheld metal chipping hammer and two cans of spray paint, police said.
Police say evidence gathered during Faust’s arrest in Redwood City led them to positively identify Faust as a suspect in the vandalism of the monument in San Jose. However, officers did not specify which evidence led to that conclusion.
The arrest comes amid ongoing nationwide calls for police reform since the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The oft-called “defund police” movement has local implications, with Redwood City currently in the midst of a heated community dialogue over calls for significant police reform.
Photo of Jesilyn Faust courtesy of the San Jose Police Department. The pre-vandalism photo of the Thomas Fallon monument is courtesy of the City of San Jose.