A 144-year-old statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed following weeks of riots that took place at the plaza where it stands, according to the Philly Inquirer.
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, the Inquirer reported.
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.
Breaking:At least 2 taken into custody at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia. Protesters rip down an Italian flag and a police barrier as tensions rise at Christopher Columbus statue. @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/Qrtv5xcwq5
— Chris O’Connell (@CoconnellFox29) June 14, 2020
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.
Those against removing the statue, which was given to the city as a gift by the Italian government in the 1800s, 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.
#Breaking: Following weeks of protests, physical confrontations and allegations of police bias, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city intends to “seek the removal” of the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia. https://t.co/zndRsXtCV5 pic.twitter.com/3zMwWP8S5Y
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) June 24, 2020
Countless other statues of Columbus have been vandalized, set on fire, and destroyed across the country amid the riots that have sporadically taken place since May. A Columbus statue in Richmond was toppled, set on fire, and thrown into a nearby lake in June. (RELATED: Protesters Topple, Behead Christopher Columbus Statues In Richmond And Boston)
Also in June, police arrested 7 people for vandalizing Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León statues in Miami with spray-painted hammer-and-sickles and “BLM” (Black Lives Matter).