The mayor of New York has dismissed on Friday the idea to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus overlooking a square close to Central Park, although the statues of the explorer being attacked across the United States in the wake of protests against the racial inequalities.
Despite renewed calls for the removal of this statue, including a petition signed by more than 5000 signatures, the mayor, Bill de Blasio has stated that they did not want to go back on its maintenance, decided in January, 2018 by a commission specially formed to decide the fate of the monuments controversial.
“The commission has done a very thorough (..) and I think that we have to take it to its conclusions,” said Mr. de Blasio, at a press briefing.
After several months of work, the commission had decided not to touch the statue that was erected in 1892 for the 400th anniversary of the “discovery” of America by the explorer genoese, became a symbol of the genocide of the native americans and the oppression of the natives in general. It sits at the top of a column of 23 meters high, on the place of ” Columbus Circle “.
The commission had decided to put up plaques explaining the history of Christopher Columbus on the site.
On Thursday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who wants to be at the forefront of reforms to combat racism, was also pronounced for the maintenance of this statue.
“I understand the feelings around Columbus and some of its actions, as nobody would defend (…) But the statue is also a tribute to the contribution of the community Italian-american in New York. And for that, I support it, ” said Mr. Cuomo, born to a family with Italian origins, as Mr. De Blasio to the roots of German-Italian.
In the wake of protests against the racial inequalities triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on may 25, several statues of Christopher Columbus have been recently removed or vandalized, including Boston, Miami and Richmond, Virginia. Another was déboulonnée Thursday night in Camden, New Jersey.
In recent years, dozens of u.s. cities have replaced the celebration in October “Columbus Day” – public holiday the federal level since 1937 – by a day-long tribute to the ” indigenous peoples “. But New York and Boston, which have strong communities of Italian origin, have preserved.