Philadelphia officials plan to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus in Marconi Plaza, according to a statement from Mayor Jim Kenney’s office.
Recent clashes between people who support the statue and those who are “distressed by its existence have deteriorated to a concerning public safety situation,” the statement said.
The city will ask the Philadelphia Art Commission to approve the removal of the statue on July 22, and will allow public input through written statements until July 21.
Columbus became a symbol of Italians’ contributions to American history, but “scholars and historians have uncovered first-hand documentation establishing that his arrival in the Americas also marked the beginning of the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people,” the statement said.
The statue has provoked so much conflict that a week ago the city boxed it in with wood in order to protect it. And groups of armed men have stood guard at the statue after it was defaced, CNN affiliate WCAU reported.
Protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to voice their feelings about the Columbus statue. CNN affiliate WPVI reported that 26 people were arrested and issued citations for failure to disperse during an incident at the Municipal Services Building in Center City.
“The City is committed to finding a way forward that allows Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage and culture, while respecting the histories and circumstances of others that come from different backgrounds,” the statement says.
Other cities are also dealing with public anger about statues of Columbus.
In Boston, one was beheaded before being taken down. Protesters in Richmond, Virginia, and Minneapolis pulled down statues. The one in Richmond was tossed in a lake.
Columbus, Ohio, says it will take down its Columbus statue, and some have suggested renaming the town Flavortown, in honor of celebrity chef Guy Fieri, a native son.