San Jose council votes to remove Christopher Columbus statue
The city council of San Jose, Calif., voted Tuesday to remove a statute of Christopher Columbus from the lobby of its city hall.
The council is giving the area’s Italian-American community six weeks to relocate the statue, The Mercury News reported. If they haven’t done so by then, it will be placed in storage.
“I think everyone’s been twisting themselves into pretzels to avoid hurting people,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo, according to the news outlet. “Let’s stop twisting ourselves. Let’s see if we can at last put this behind us and focus on what’s positive, and there’s a lot positive in our community to honor.”
The Brown Berets, a pro-Chicano group, helped lead a push to have the statue removed from public land, calling it “a symbol of genocide” that glorified European colonialism and violence against Native Americans after Columbus’s 1492 voyage to America.
“He belongs in history books,” Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas said, according to the Mercury News. “I don’t believe he belongs in our City Hall.”
The statute of the navigator had been vandalized twice. A man once reportedly smashed the statue’s face with a sledgehammer while shouting “murderer” and “genocide.”
Columbus statues in other major U.S. cities have been defaced in recent months amid a national debate last fall about removing Confederate monuments. A similar statue in New York was beheaded.
President Trump criticized the destruction of Confederate and Columbus statues, saying in October that “we should preserve our history, not tear it down.”
Last week, in an effort to recognize “historic discrimination and violence” against Native Americans, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
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