A statue of Christopher Columbus that had been covered by a huge box since the peak of the racial-justice demonstrations more than two years ago has now been forced to be unveiled in Philadelphia.
Since progressive Mayor Jim Kenney revealed plans to totally remove the statue at Marconi Plaza as protesters flooded the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in June 2020, the statue has been covered.
However, a judge commanded the city to release the monument and take away the plywood box on Friday.
The City “accepted the contribution of the Columbus statue in 1876,” according to Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, and could not just remove it.
Its 2017 designation as a historic object obligates it to maintain the statue. The judge determined that the Columbus statue is not city property.
The boards covering the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza are coming down.
A crowd of onlookers are here and cheering as the face is revealed. @6abc pic.twitter.com/ElUHkz1qyy
— Sharifa Jackson 6abc (@SharifaJackson) December 12, 2022
WPVI-TV, a local news station, captured city employees dismantling the box late on Sunday.
A few spectators applauded when the contentious statue eventually came out from under its covering, which had been painted the Italian flag green, white, and red since October.
The supporters of the statute’s advocate, attorney George Bochetto, told the local channel that he is “delighted” that “the rule of law still matters.”
That our civilization is not run by anti-culture mobs. In a statement, Bochetto made reference to the 2020 protests and expressed his hope “that all ethnic communities can proudly safeguard and honor their diverse heritages.”
Additionally, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the court’s ruling was “important for every ethnic group in our country, not just the Columbus statue and Italian Americans.”
Kevin Lessard, the mayor’s spokesman, stated that the city is “extremely upset” by the court’s decision.
Lessard stated, “We continue to believe that the controversial Christopher Columbus statue, which has caused controversy in Philadelphia, should be removed from its present location at Marconi Plaza.
We will also keep looking into our possibilities for a course of action that will allow Philadelphians to honor their history and culture while also recognizing the circumstances and histories of everyone’s various backgrounds.
Columbus was hailed by proponents of the statue as a symbol of the city’s rich Italian heritage.
Kenney instead referred to his “far more infamous” past, which involved the enslavement of Indigenous people and the imposition of penalties like amputations or even death.
After the location was the subject of widespread protests, the mayor defended his decision to remove the statue by citing concern for public safety.
But a judge later overturned that choice, stating that the city had failed to demonstrate that its removal was required to safeguard the public.