Update: Mayor Ginther Directs Christopher Columbus Statue to be Removed from City Hall
Mayor Andrew Ginther has announced that the Christopher Columbus statue at City Hall will be removed as soon as possible.
“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past,” said Mayor Ginther in a press release. “Now is the right time to replace this statue with artwork that demonstrates our enduring fight to end racism and celebrate the themes of diversity and inclusion.”
The statue will be placed in storage, while the Columbus Art Commission will lead an effort to replace the statue with public artwork “that better reflects the people of Columbus and offers a shared vision for the future,” read the statement from the mayor’s office.
The Commission has also been asked to launch a community-driven process to help determine and evaluate the diversity and inclusiveness of all public art, including other monuments, statues and art installations, as well as reimagine other symbols associated with the city, including the seal and flag, to make any recommendations for change.
The final disposition of the Columbus statue — which was a gift from the people of Genoa, Italy in 1955 — will be determined by the commission. It’s possible it could be displayed elsewhere, “in proper context, to help future generations better understand how the statue played into our country’s ongoing and evolving conversation around race and equity.”
“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.”
However on Thursday, WBNS 10TV reported that a man named Michael Young and identified as a citizen in Columbus, filed a lawsuit with the Franklin County Common Pleas Court asking for a court order to halt the removal pending a public hearing and legislative action taken by Columbus City Council.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein says the city has not yet been served a copy of the complaint, adding, “In the meantime, we so no legal reason why the city can’t proceed with removing the statue.
Also on Thursday, the Columbus Piave Club sent a press release out to media outlets in anger about the move, saying the group was locked out of the conversation even though they “facilitated the statue’s acquisition, delivery, and dedication in 1955.”
“We find particular offense in the Mayor’s following unintelligible, insulting, and incendiary rhetoric from his press release,” read the release. “We have asked for actual historical references to these inflammatory comments by once again lobbying city hall and Robin Davis only to be discounted, belittled, and ignored (once again).”
A document discovered 10 years ago by Spanish historians pegs the figure as “a greedy and vindictive tyrant who saved some of his most violent punishments for his own followers,” The Guardian reported. And historical record has found that Columbus profited from the enslavement of native peoples kidnapped from the Caribbean. “By 1500, he and his brothers had sent nearly 1,500 enslaved islanders to European markets to be sold,” reported The Washington Post, among other instances of violence towards natives and Spanish colonists both directly and indirectly.
The statue in front of City Hall is one of three Christopher Columbus statues displayed across Downtown Columbus. Columbus State Community College announced on June 16 it would remove the statue on its campus within the next two weeks.