A 134-year-old statue of Christopher Columbus has been removed from a St. Louis park, becoming the latest monument to be toppled amid national protests over George Floyd’s death and racial injustice.
The bronze statue of the 15th-century explorer was taken down Tuesday at Tower Grove Park, where it was erected in 1886 as a way to “celebrate the contributions of immigrants” in the St. Louis area, the park’s board said in a statement.
“But now, for many, it symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities,” the statement continued. “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 removal followed years of vandalism and several protests seeking its ouster as recently as September, when the park board decided to keep the statue while including historical context about the explorer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Police previously told the park’s board officers it would be unable to monitor the likeness, prompting the administrators to decide to remove it before it was damaged or destroyed, a source close to the matter told the newspaper.
The future of the statue, which will be cleaned and kept in storage, is undecided. When it was unveiled on Oct. 12, 1886, it was one of the first Columbus statues in the country, according to the Post-Dispatch, citing newspaper reports from the time.
A petition calling for the statue’s removal garnered more than 1,000 signatures last week, KMOV reports.
“He’s not the person that we thought he was or that we were taught he was,” Mary Schum, who supports the removal, told the station. “Maybe the history has been out there all along, but our educational system prioritizes the stories that benefit those in charge.”
Several statues of Columbus nationwide have recently been vandalized or toppled, including one torn down last week by protesters in Richmond, Virginia, and another that was beheaded in Camden, New Jersey.
With Post wires
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