State Watch

Cuomo declines to call for removal of Christopher Columbus statue

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he did not believe New York City’s statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed, citing the explorer’s cultural significance to Italian Americans.

Asked at his daily press briefing if it was “time for” the statue, which stands on a 27-foot column in Columbus Circle, “to go,” Cuomo responded, “I understand the dialogue that’s been going on for a number of years, [but] the Christopher Columbus statue in some way represents the Italian American legacy in this country and the Italian American contribution in this country,” although he conceded that “some of his acts … nobody would support.”

“The statue has come to represent and signify an appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” he added.

The protests against racism and police brutality that have swept the nation and other countries in recent weeks have seen the defacing of several statues associated with the Confederacy, racism or imperialism, including that of former Mayor Frank Rizzo (D) in Philadelphia, as well as that of King Leopold II of Belgium, believed to have killed up to 10 million people in what is now Congo.

Columbus statues have been targeted in Richmond, Va., where protesters threw a statue into the lake in the city’s Byrd Park, and Boston, where they removed the statue’s head. The cultural celebration of the explorer has long been criticized by Native American advocacy groups, who point out contemporaneous documentation of him ordering the torture, enslavement and killing of natives on the island of Hispaniola. Several cities have replaced the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous People’s Day as a result.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Black Lives Matter christopher columbus Frank Rizzo New York
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