Following the massive nationwide protests that erupted over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, thousands of protesters have begun to topple or vandalize the statues of ancient characters credited with owning slaves and torturing indigenous peoples as well as immigrants. In some states, governors and city mayors approved the removal of discredited statues while others ordered the renaming of areas named in their honor.
One of such statues is that of Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer credited with discovering America and several other countries in the Caribbean and the New World. There is a massive statue of Christopher Columbus in New York City and a Columbus Circle in the city which came under fire for removal in the wake of the George Floyd killing. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have insisted the statue will not be removed nor the circle renamed.
Cuomo said he stands for the statue of Christopher Columbus because of its importance to Italian Americans and the contributions of Italian Americans to the development of New York and the country as a whole.
“The Christopher Columbus statue represents in some ways the Italian American legacy in the country, and the Italian American contribution in this country,” Cuomo said. “I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts which nobody would support, but the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York so for that reason I support it.”
A list of statues that have been toppled, vandalized or slated for official removal across the country in the heart of the Floyd riots include –
- Former slave owner, Major General Philip Schuyler in Albany, New York
- 131-year-old Confederate Civil War soldier named Appomattox in Alexandria, Virginia
- Confederate officer Charles Linn in Birmingham, Alabama
- Beheaded Christopher Columbus statue in Boston
- Confederate general Lawrence Sullivan in College Station, Texas
- One Riot One Ranger statue of a Texas Ranger in Love Field airport in Dallas, Texas
- Late mayor of Dearborn in Michigan, Orville Hubbard
- Confederate officer John Breckenridge Castleman in Louisville, Kentucky
- Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes in Mobile, Alabama
- Robert E. Lee in Montgomery, Alabama
- Politician Edward Carmack in Nashville, Tennessee
- Late Mayor Frank Rizzo in Philadelphia
- Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham and former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia.