Arts & Culture Featured

Christopher Columbus Statue to Undergo Public Review Process

Boston Art Commission (BAC) voted to submit the Christopher Columbus statue for further public review to decide its fate, following a virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon. The issue will undergo a citywide public engagement process to allow voices on both sides to express their opinions regarding the statue’s future. BAC will also establish a group within the commission that will determine an appropriate review process.

Participants joined the meeting to offer public testimony with some requesting the statue’s restoration and others urging for the BAC to have the statue permanently removed. The meeting ran out of time before all public testimony was taken, prompting the BAC to agree that a continuation of the conversation was necessary.

On June 10th, the Christopher Columbus statue was beheaded, adding to its existing history of vandalism throughout the years. The rest of the body was subsequently removed by the City and placed in storage to await further public discussion about its future.

Christopher Columbus Statue prior to its recent vandalism

The Christopher Columbus statue was installed in 1979 without being formally voted on. However, it comes under review by the BAC because it stands on City-owned property.

Groups have organized for both its restoration and permanent removal. Indigenous community representatives are generally arguing for the the statue’s removal and Italian heritage groups (i.e., Sons of Italy) for its restoration. The BAC itself presented a review at the meeting by Erin Genia entitled, Confronting Colonial Myths in Boston’s Public Space.

Diane Modica represented the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in support of the statue’s cultural importance to Italian Americans. However, others spoke of non-Columbus alternatives to represent Italian heritage.

Proponents for the statue’s permanent removal pointed to the Christopher Columbus statue as a symbol of white supremacy and urged that the voices of the indigenous people be elevated in the public review process.

The BAC hearing would appear to directly counter prior remarks by Mayor Walsh and local officials that the North End community lead the process regarding the future of the statue. “The park over in the North End is not a park that just belongs to the North End,” stated one individual, pointing to the thousands of tourists who frequent the waterfront park every year. North End resident Bernie Sapienza spoke in favor of restoring the statue as representing the neighborhood’s Italian-American past.

Resident Patrick Mason, a Native American and member of the Knights of Columbus, testified in favor of restoring the statue and argued that removing it would not help address the issues currently faced by indigenous people. “I’m a Native American advocating to stop going after Columbus,” he stated during the virtual meeting.

Curators have not determined whether the statue’s head can be restored. BAC members agreed that a forum allowing for further discussion and education about the matter should be formed before any decision is made.

8 Replies to “Christopher Columbus Statue to Undergo Public Review Process

  1. Who the f* would think about beheading the thing just that word and definition in general! Two months and still no suspect for that either ? Also I think it should go back after watching yesterday’s meeting. I’ll admit I’m 50/50 on the holiday. We probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him in 1492. You know I am all open in favor of free speech and opinions. Beheading is not acceptable to me you gotta be on something. The jerk couldn’t peaceful protest. They forgot the red paint. Leave Columbus alone. It’s bad enough Italians aren’t considered loyal (I am) and that the North End supports Trump. I could go on and on.

  2. Ahhhahhh. I think you went far enough. The statue was erected in. 1979 as a symbol of Italian pride and their contributions to this continent. It stands for something, but contrary of white supremacy, actually the opposite. It stands for their struggles and their ability to overcome. It stands for the succes that Italian Americans achieved with little outside help, only their own sweat, fortitude and work ethic. Removal is a spit in the face. Another type of supremacy putting their foot down. Guilty suburban WASPs trying assuage their guilt of bullying their nannies and sweeping the North End’s history under the table. The names are on the base of support he statue and that is what really stands.

    1. The beheading of the statue was far enough c’mon that’s ISIS and 18th century DP stuff they couldn’t even pour paint over it again or just protest peacefully. T-Mobile Sprint

  3. Gentleman , just my humble opinion a woman was recently the victim of a sexual assault in the NE and as usual no one has been charged with the crime. If it unsafe for a person to walk home in the neighborhood ( this type of crime has happened many times over the years and not one person has ever been brought to justice. One person was charged but was exonerated due to mistaken identity . Perhaps surveillance cameras would help?) that she lives in how is the CC statue going to be protected. As a proud Italian American and not a “Trump supporter” we need to face the facts about the history of CC and the facts are not pretty! Because of our I know culture and our great history we can do a lot better than honor CC. I know a lot of my fellow Italian Americans will not agree with my comments so be it. I chuckle when I hear people say that” if it wasnt for Columbus we would not be here” There remains serious doubts whether CC ever landed in North America. But there is no doubt about the crimes he committed.

    1. Your right I agree with your statement it’s ridiculous. Beheading was not the right method to the statue. I’ve always been 50/50 so it’s hard. Would we even have been in this public discussion if not for the Floyd situation. Our mayor is open and probably wants it gone anyways. Feels like a set up in a way.

    2. I sort of doubt Columbus’ activities were recorded that accurately. His discovery opened the doors to freedom for many. Our original states were land grants given to monarchies benefactors. Getting free land and then finding these native squatters all over the place, they had to get them off the property. And then our ancestors moved in. Maybe we should approve vandalizing the Copps Hill burying ground. Probably a lot of plunderers there.. Maybe raise the whole thing and put condos in there. it’s just another testiment to gentrification and the ongoing dismantling of the neighborhood and erasure of the North End.

  4. I had a funny feeling my swear would get edited too bad I think it’s ok once in a while to use up a swear in this situation or so nothing like CC head being cut off. 🤷‍♂️

    1. I spotted it before the edit. Had to laugh. Word Press has a bad words editor. I figured tag one would have been on the top of the list.

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