De Blasio considering removal of Christopher Columbus statue near Central Park

Posted On Wed, August 23, 2017 By

Posted On Wed, August 23, 2017 By In Central Park South, Policy

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“Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure for many of us, particularly those that come from the Caribbean,” said Puerto Rican-born City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. According to DNAinfo, Viverito is calling on the city to consider removing the Columbus Circle statue of the Italian explorer as part of their larger 90-day review of “symbols of hate.” She first introduced the proposal on Monday at a rally in East Harlem to remove another controversial statue, that of Dr. James Marion Sims, who achieved his title as the father of modern gynecology by performing experiments on slaves without consent and without anesthesia. Columbus, honored for discovering the Americas, is also believed to have enslaved and killed many of the indigenous people he encountered. In response, the Mayor’s office said the proposal will receive “immediate attention.” But of course, not everyone is happy about it.

Despite the fact that the statue was a gift to the city from Italian American immigrants in 1892, Viverito and other elected officials remain staunch in their proposal. Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, who’s also a City Council Speaker candidate and may be considering a gubernatorial run, expressed his support via Twitter:

At an opposing press conference yesterday at Columbus Circle, Staten Island Assemblyman Ron Castorina said the efforts are full of “revisionist history.” He continued: “It’s quite difficult to adjudicate Christopher Columbus, the man who lived in the 1400s, and to use today’s constructs for the purposes of adjudicating what type of man he was…. What it suggests is the memory of the Italian-Americans that contributed to building this city, the very buildings that we engage in commerce in, that government sits in.”

Similarly, Republican Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli sent a letter to Mark-Viverito and de Blasio asking for a “clear and concise document” that outlines the criteria being used to determine how these public monuments will be considered. “Although your intentions may be well placed, I fear that an examination into these particular statues, as well as the many others the city hopes to ‘review,’ will present complex and cloudy historical interpretations that will only serve to deepen gaps between people of New York with different backgrounds and historical worldviews,” he wrote.

In response, mayoral spokesperson Ben Sarle wrote in a statement obtained by the Observer that “The Columbus statue is obviously one that will get very immediate attention because there’s been tremendous concern raised about it. When the guidelines/criteria for review are set by the commission, we will make sure they are available to the public.” Though de Blasio, who himself is Italian, hasn’t publicly commented on the specifics of the Columbus statue, he did say in 2013 that the explorer has “some troubling things” in his history.

Columbus Park, Christopher Columbus, Columbus monuments NYC
Columbus Park, via New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

On Monday, a statue of Columbus in Baltimore believed to be the first dedicated to him in the nation was vandalized, as was a statue in Boston over the weekend, when a protest at a statue was also held in Detroit. As 6sqft previously reported, the Columbus Circle monument is not the only such market in NYC. At the southern end of the Central Park mall at 66th Street sits another statue. Chinatown’s Columbus Park not only bears his name but another statue, the same true for Astoria’s Columbus Square. And in the Bronx’s Little Italy, D’Auria-Murphy Triangle bears a large bust of Columbus.

De Blasio and Cuomo’s plan to conduct a 90-day review of “all symbols of hate on city property,” was initially made in response to the violent and Charlottesville. At the time, Cuomo announced the removal of the busts of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from CUNY’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx. He also advocated that the U.S. Army reconsider its decision to keep the street names that honor Lee and Jackson at Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton.

[Via DNAinfo and NYO]

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Neighborhoods : Central Park South,Columbus Circle

  • TomDUWS

    I find DeBlasio and Mark-Viverito far more offensive than Christopher Columbus. Can I have them removed? And isn’t it time for that damn Wall Street bull to go? Isn’t he offending somebody? After all, he’s a symbol of wealth and not all are wealthy. When will this craziness end? There is probably something about any statue in this city that will offend somebody

    • Jack Liberman

      MMV is a communist scumbag and atheist, she invited to lead Puerto Rican Parade a convicted terrorist and bomber, she now wanted to remove a one of most historical and architectural landmark in NYC, Columbus Statue in famous Columbus Circle, it’s a shame, it’s must be protest against removal this landmarked monument and this a slap in the face of Italian American community, whose also Bill Blasio and Cuomo belongs, also to all jews, since Columbus was a jewish too!!!!

      • StanChaz

        With a name like Lieberman you say he “was a jewish too”?
        Just replace Columbus with an Italian who did not commit genocide against the natives of the new world.

        • Greg Preservation

          Again, more silliness.

          The Columbus Statue was erected to celebrate the final acceptance of his ‘Italian’ heritage for New York’s immigrant population.

          For God’s sake, please folks, read the dedication and celebration statements. You have no idea what you are writing and speaking about if you believe that this statue was dedicated to a brutal man to honor his brutality.

          It was not erected to celebrate genocide. Why not expand the memorial to include the truth of his exploration, not destroy a great and artistic monument.

          I am willing to bet a great deal that you have said bigoted remarks and had bigoted thoughts, you simply have not had power to act on them or celebrate your anger.

    • Hortense De Castro

      Thanks, Tom, for your comment! Crazy out there with monu-hysteria.
      How about changing the name of Brooklyn, Breucklen in Dutch, because the Dutch were involved in the slave trade?

  • Paul S. Bunten

    Columbus Avenue? Columbia University? The District of Columbia? Where will it all end?

    • StanChaz

      It will end when our public memorials no longer commemorate people like Columbus who committed genocide against the natives of the new world.
      Communities and nations have the absolute right -and duty- to decide what they want displayed on their public property – because it’s a tacit endorsement of that history. I would suggest that you watch the recent Adam Euins Everything episode specifically about Columbus, his misdeeds,
      and the fables concerning his life that we continue to spout in our schools.

      • Greg Preservation

        This is grotesque silliness.

        Unlike the Confederate statues, most, if not all of which were consciously erected to support White Supremacy, these were erected to honor an immigrant people. Read the dedication accounts.

        ‘Native Americans’ slaughtered each other in large numbers, and that was long before European new world expansion forced Native Peoples to move into other people’s territories. For example, simply read the accounts of the first Europeans to visit the Americas. In Florida, for example, European explorers witnessed Natives feeding their enemies to crocodiles and alligators

        Crocodiles and alligators, huh? Nice and humane way to execute your enemies.

        Instead to tearing down someone else’s statues, erect some of your own.

        Gregory Hubbard

        • jsy

          Hmmm. Here’s an idea for a statue:

          Build one for those who built Wall Street. And the first City Hall. The slaves.

          This from researcher and writer Alan Singer:

          December 13, 2011 was the three hundredth anniversary of the law passed by the New York City Common Council that made Wall Street the city’s official slave market for the sale and rental of enslaved Africans.

          The predecessor bank of Citibank, which has offices at 111 Wall Street, was actually founded by a banker and sugar trader deeply involved in financing the illegal slave trade bringing Africans into Cuba in the 19th century. When Moses Taylor died in 1882, he was one of the wealthiest men of that century with an estate reportedly worth $70 million, or about $1.6 billion in today’s dollars.

          There is now an online petition addressed to Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council calling for a historical marker at the site of the Wall Street slave market detailing its role in the history of New York City.

          The fact is that New York’s first City Hall was built with slave labor. The first Congress passed the Bill of Rights there and George Washington gave his inaugural speech there.

          Slaves built the wall that Wall Street is named for. Slavery was such a big part of early New York that during the colonial era one in five people living in New York was an enslaved African. One in five. Yet there are no permanent signs acknowledging the role slaves played in early New York.

          Oh, speaking of “humane ways”, fear of slaves and uprisings was one of the reasons an official market space was instituted. (A panic over an alleged slave conspiracy in 1741 resulted in over 100 being exiled, hung, or burnt alive at the stake.) Taxation for the city’s coffers and a need for a ready supply of laborers for municipal projects were other reasons for an official market.

          Indeed, there was strong pro-slavery sentiment in the city because slavery had made many fortunes, built the city’s very physical foundations, and transformed it into the nation’s financial capital.

  • 6SJ7

    This is nothing more than an organized attack on the Italian-American community of NYC.

  • guruman46

    So by the same logic, all memorials to anyone of Caribbean descent should be removed. You see, they are all descendents of the Arawak Indians who murdered hundreds of ship crews who landed anywhere on Caribbean shores, including some crew members of the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria — the flotilla captained by Christopher Columbus.

    • jsy

      Clearly they did not kill enough of them. Also, did they invite them there or were these “hundreds of ship crews” bent upon raping their women and taking whatever they wanted? You know what I mean; what they have done with and to every vulnerable people they have ever encountered anywhere on Earth.

  • Shereice Hunter

    Consider working on Housing Affordability for income EQUALITY..

    • 6SJ7

      Which has what to do with the Columbus statue??

  • Shereice Hunter

    Consider helping resolve

  • Jerry Edward Cox

    We have many more serious delusion problems without dreaming them up.

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