Kenney says he’ll seek removal of Columbus statue from Marconi Plaza

Pat Loeb
June 24, 2020 - 6:12 pm
Christopher Columbus statue at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia

Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Mayor Jim Kenney says he’ll ask the Art Commission to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from a South Philadelphia park because of public safety concerns. The statue has become a flashpoint in recent civil unrest.

After anti-racist protesters tore down or defaced statues of the 15th century Italian explorer in several U.S. cities, supporters gathered near his statue in Marconi Plaza to defend it, setting up a series of tense confrontations.

Kenney ordered a box put around the statue last week while he sought guidance from the Art Commission about whether it should stay. 

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He’s now taken a more aggressive stance, saying he’ll ask that it be removed when the Commission meets in July. He’s seeking public comment through an online form.

The mayor says that reviewing what historical figures deserve to be commemorated in public spaces is part of the national reckoning over systemic racism. 

Columbus was revered for centuries as the “discoverer” of America, but more recent scholarship has highlighted his record of killing and enslaving Indigenous people. 

Kenney says there must be a way forward that allows Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage while respecting those from different backgrounds. 

The Friends of Marconi Plaza oppose the statue’s removal but declined to comment.