On Wednesday morning, city crews showed up at the bronze statue of the Italian sailor that had stood in front of City Hall for decades. Within hours, it was gone.
Back when what would eventually become Ohio’s largest city was founded in 1812, cities, counties, rivers, and other geographical features were named in honor of Christopher Columbus without a second thought. After all, it was the Genoan sailor’s voyages under the Spanish flag that led to the “discovery” of the Americas and, by extension, ultimately led to the settlement and creation of the United States of America.
However, that was two centuries ago. Now, looked at through the lens of modern attitudes, some say that Columbus doesn’t deserve to be honored. Though his actions helped put the Western Hemisphere on the map, they also led to the enslavement of untold numbers of natives, as well as outright genocide.
In the wake of the George Floyd protests, cities have been taking a closer look at their monuments that honor people with pasts that don’t stand up to the litmus test of history. Columbus is one such city.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther had announced two weeks ago that the statue’s days were numbered.
“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,” he said.
For now, the statue will be placed into storage, with its future uncertain. The site where it had once stood will be replaced with “artwork that demonstrates our enduring fight to end racism and celebrate the themes of diversity and inclusion,” Ginther said.
However, Larry Pishitelli, an Italian immigrant to the city, is not having it.
“You can’t just throw it under the rug and say, ‘We’re not standing for this, you gotta hide this.’ It’s our heritage. Like it or not, it’s how we got here,” he said.
Meanwhile, another smaller statue of Columbus still stands in the city, on the grounds of the Ohio State Capitol building.
There’s also the matter of the city’s name, which remains despite the removal of the city’s signature statue of its namesake. As of this writing, there is no real discussion about changing the name of the city of nearly a million people. However, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, one local resident suggested renaming the city “Flavortown,” in honor of the catchphrase of celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who was born there.