City removes Christopher Columbus statue after vandalism

BOSTON — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says the city will temporarily remove the Christopher Columbus statue in the North End after it was beheaded Tuesday night. It comes as protestors throughout the country are tearing down similar statues.

“I’m offended that people would cut the head off before they sit down to have a conversation,” Boston City Councilwoman Lydia Edwards said.

The head of the statue was knocked off and left at its base in the North End’s Christopher Columbus Park. It was removed by the city Thursday morning and trucked to a storage facility.

Edwards says she’s angry at whoever tore the head off the statue.

“This doesn’t help any kind of real conversation. This isn’t pushing the needle forward in the slightest bit,” she said.

This isn’t the first time the statue was vandalized. In 2015, it was doused in red paint with “Black Lives Matter” spray-painted on its base. In 2006 someone stole the head of the statue. It was found a week later and repaired.

“This has been happening all over and with what he represented, this day and age we shouldn’t have the statue. It’s offensive to tell you the truth. It’s offensive,” Lois Hoffman, a passerby, said.

To many people, Christopher Columbus represents slavery and the mass genocide of indigenous people. On Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia a Christopher Columbus statue was torn down and thrown into a river. Other confederate and Jim Crow era statues throughout the country were also vandalized this week. Right now there’s a movement to remove these statues for good.

“We are going to be taking the statue down this morning and putting it into storage to assess the damage of the statue. This particular statue has been subject to repeated vandalism here in Boston. And given the conversations we’re certainly having right now in our city of Boston and throughout the country, we’re also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of the statue,” Walsh said.

There has been no timeline yet for repairs to the statue, which will remain in storage while the damage is being assessed. The temporary removal is also not permanent, the mayor’s office said, and the city’s intent is to return it to the park.

Edwards said the mayor didn’t consult with the city council before ordering the statue be temporarily taken down. “He didn’t ask so what’s done is done. I think what may have gone into that decision is the fact that it’s lightning rod right now,” she said.

Walsh’s office said the mayor didn’t feel comfortable leaving the headless statue standing.

Edwards said she’d like to see more conversations with Italian-Americans, Native Americans and African Americans before a final decision on the statue is made.

“I’m not offended by good conversation. I think we can get there. I know we can balance the interest of honoring culture without hurting other people,” she said.

The statue and the park are both owned by the city.

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