COLUMBUS, Ohio — A statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed by the largest city that bears the explorer’s name, the Ohio city’s mayor announced Thursday.
The statue located in front of City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, will be removed immediately and placed in storage as monuments to Confederates and other historical figures who repressed or oppressed other people are being dismantled across the country.
“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness.” Democratic Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a release. “That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past.”
There has long been debate across the nation over the explorer’s legacy, with some calling him a symbol of the conquest and subjugation of indigenous people. Columbus, Ohio’s capital, quietly canceled its Columbus Day holiday beginning in 2018.
The removal of such monuments follows weeks of global protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.
This is the second announcement this week of a monument enshrined to the explorer being removed in Columbus.
Columbus State Community College said Tuesday it will be dismantling the statue of Columbus that has been displayed on its downtown campus since 1988.
“We do not seek to erase history, but to make an intentional shift in what we visibly honor and celebrate as an institution,” Columbus State Board of Trustees President Anthony Joseph said.
Ginther said he asked the Columbus Art Commission to launch a process that will help determine how to best replace the statue as well as reevaluate existing monuments and symbols in the city, including the city’s seal and flag.
“By replacing the statue, we are removing one more barrier to meaningful and lasting change to end systemic racism,” said Mayor Ginther. “Its removal will allow us to remain focused on critical police reforms and increasing equity in housing, health outcomes, education and employment.”
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.