Story at a glance
- Last month, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D) announced the statue would be removed, saying it doesn’t represent the city’s values.
- Local WBNS reports crews arrived around 3 a.m. and took about three hours to remove the more than 20-foot-tall statue that was given to the city as a gift from the people of Genoa, Italy, in 1955.
- Some of Italian descent expressed opposition to the removal of the statue.
A statue of Christopher Columbus was removed from outside City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday morning after the city’s mayor called for it to be removed amid criticism over the explorer’s controversial legacy with respect to Indigenous people.
Local WBNS reports crews arrived around 3 a.m. and took about three hours to remove the more than 20-foot-tall statue that was given to the city as a gift from the people of Genoa, Italy in 1955.
The city said it will put the statue in safekeeping at a secure city facility.
Last month, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D) announced the statue would be removed, saying it doesn’t represent the city’s values.
“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past,” Ginther said in a statement. “Now is the right time to replace this statue with artwork that demonstrates our enduring fight to end racism and celebrate the themes of diversity and inclusion.”
The Columbus Art Commission has been tasked with leading an effort to replace the statue with public artwork that “better reflects the people of Columbus and offers a shared vision for the future.”
But some are not happy with the removal of the statue.
“You can’t just throw it under the rug and say, ‘We’re not standing for this, you gotta hide this,’” Larry Pishitelli, a local Italian immigrant told WOSU this week. “It’s our heritage. Like it or not, it’s how we got here.”
The Columbus Piave Club, an organization which celebrates Italian heritage, last month called the sentiments of diversity and inclusion “ironic,” as the club had been left out of the conversation surrounding the statue’s removal.
“We as an Italian Community (Columbus Italian Club and Abruzzi Club included) have been COMPLETELY locked out of this conversation and completely ignored considering we facilitated the statue’s acquisition, delivery, and dedication in 1955,” the club said in a statement. “Furthermore, considering that we celebrate the anniversary of its unveiling every year on the site since 1955 and are not even given the courtesy of a mention in the press release of its removal.”
Statues of Columbus have been vandalized or removed in recent weeks, including one torn down by protesters in Richmond, Va. Another statue of Columbus was beheaded in Boston in the park bearing his name.
Monuments of controversial historical figures have been targeted, especially Confederate monuments, following protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.