City Of Philadelphia’s Art Commission Announces It Will Remove Its 1876 Statue Of Columbus

By M.S. 08.14.20

A 144-year-old statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed following weeks of riots that took place at the plaza where it stands.

The statue at Marconi Plaza will be placed in temporary storage, the city’s Art Commission decided Wednesday after more than a month of discussion about the fate of the statue prompted by ongoing protests surrounding the death of George Floyd in May, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Marconi Plaza had reportedly become an epicenter for protests and riots, causing the city to surround the statue in plywood in June to prevent it from being vandalized, or as seen in many cities, destroyed. A police cruiser was permanently stationed at the plaza to prevent further violence after there were repeated incidents of armed groups accused of assailing passersby.

The Philadelphia Historical Commission had endorsed a city proposal to remove the statue on the grounds of public safety, arguing that it would only attract protests that would create the potential for harm, and also putting the statue itself at risk for being damaged.

City officials also argued in July that the statue should be relocated due to Columbus’ legacy, which included “enslavement, forcible removal, and the devastation of the Indigenous people.” 

Those against removing the statue, which was given to the city as a gift by the Italian government in the 1800s, say it celebrates Italian American heritage.

The Art Commission said that the statue would be kept in storage, and that the city would report back to the commission every 6 months on its process in finding the statue a new location.