On Tuesday, following orders from the park’s Board of Commissioners, crews arrived to take down the statue of the Italian sailor who, sailing under the Spanish flag, is widely credited with “discovering” the Americas and bringing about widespread European settlement.
In recent decades, Columbus’ legacy has been re-examined under the lens of modern attitudes. Though Columbus may have put the New World on the map, in the most literal possible sense, he also set into motion a series of events that ended with the enslavement and decimation of local tribes.
Because of this, as inews reported earlier this week, many are calling for the removal of statues honoring the Genoan sailor. Indeed, in some places, statues of Columbus have been vandalized, beheaded, and/or toppled down by protesters.
In St. Louis, police were concerned about the lack of manpower to monitor the statue at all times and prevent vandalism. For this reason, the board decided to remove the statue to stave off any such attempts.
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“By taking this action, Tower Grove Park reaffirms its commitment to being a place of welcome, and to caring for the people’s park in the best way possible,” the board said in a statement.
The statue will be cleaned up and put into storage. For now, what will happen afterwards remains unclear.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, George Floyd protests, in the U.S. and across the world, have spurned discussion about the fate of statues of individuals with problematic pasts. In the U.S., that has mostly meant statues honoring Confederate fighters; and indeed, in Mobile, Alabama, a statue of Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes was recently taken down with a view towards placing it in a museum. There, it would be protected from the elements and from vandals, and understood within its historical context.
In St. Louis, the removal of the statue is being met with mixed reaction in the city’s Italian community.
Angelo Sita, former president of the Columbus Parade in the 1980s, likened the removal to censorship.
“Radical groups left right whatever only perceive what they think is correct. There’s no toleration for other points of view right now,” Sita said.
Michael Cross, a member of the Italian Community of St. Louis and the president of St. Louis-Bologna Sister Cities, suggested that the city honor its Italian heritage with a statue of an Italian with less baggage. He suggested inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who is credited with inventing the radio, or painter Leonardo da Vinci.
“They represent the innovation and the artistic ability of Italians,” he said.