Around New England

Providence To Take Down Columbus Statue Until …?

June 25, 2020

The mayor of Providence, Rhode Island has removed the city’s statue of Christopher Columbus from its location in the Elmwood neighborhood in the city.

It’s not clear what the city will do with the statue, although Mayor Jorge Elorza did not give it a vote of confidence.

“We want our community’s voice centered in the decisions made around the memorials, historical markers and monuments that represent our city,” Elorza said in a written statement Thursday, June 25. “These works should reflect the vibrancy of our neighborhoods and be a source of pride for the residents who live within them.”

The mayor said he will be advised by the city’s Special Committee for Commemorative Works.

“Through this Committee, we are allowing the community to take an active role in shaping these decisions and hope that through future projects, we can better reflect the collective memory of our beautiful city in these landmarks,” Elorza said in the written statement.

The Providence mayor said the final decision will be made by the city’s Board of Parks Commissioners. That seven-member board is chaired by the mayor. It also includes two city councilors.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh removed the North End’s statue of Columbus on Wednesday, June 10 after vandals decapitated it. Walsh, too, has said the future of Boston’s statue has yet to be determined.

Columbus statues have been a focal point of attack of left-wing protesters throughout the United States in recent weeks.

Earlier this month Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said the Columbus statue is fair game for challenge, although she didn’t take a position on whether it should be removed.

Raimondo seemed surprised when asked about the Providence statue during a coronavirus press conference Friday, June 12.

Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

 

Reporter:  Governor, the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston was vandalized, taken down. Should the one in Providence, in your mind, be removed?

Governor Gina Raimondo:  Ahhhh, that’s an interesting question.  Ahhm.  It shouldn’t have been vandalized – in Rhode Island, as it was.

I think it’s worth a discussion. You know?  I think it’s worth a discussion.

I have not – you know, it’s — Look, that’s a difficult issue. It’s a, it’s a culturally important issue for many Italian-Americans. It’s also offensive to many others.

And so I think it’s worth a community discussion.

 

Christopher Columbus, the first European to reach the New World in modern times, sailed on behalf of Spain, but was born in Genoa in what is now northwestern Italy.

At almost 19 percent, Rhode Island is the most Italian state in the country.

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