COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Nationwide protests have led to vandalism of Christopher Columbus statues, with some calling them a symbol of racism. Several statues of Columbus stand tall in the city, and a new petition wants to get rid of them.
Christopher Austin started a petition a few days ago that has gathered more than 1,800 signatures. The petition calls for the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in front of City Hall.
“Is that something we want to celebrate?” asked Austin. “Is that something we want so closely to tie into our city moving forward? I can’t support that.”
Austin would like to see the statues taken in by a historical society, because it could work with the city to create an exhibit. He explained we should still learn about Columbus, and the information needs to include his history of enslaving and mistreating indigenous communities.
“For me, it is absolutely not about erasing history,” he said. “But it’s about, let’s look at these things in the proper context.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther responded to the petition with this statement:
“I would urge people to remember that the protests that unfolded in our community were not about statues, but about persistent racism in our country. There are many perspectives on the Christopher Columbus statue, but let’s not be distracted from the real need to address the racial divide in our community and across the country.”
2017 Columbus statue protested
This is not the first time the Columbus statue has been in the news. In 2017 people protested its presence in the city. Click here for that story.
Austin told NBC4 he would ideally like to see all the statues of Columbus taken down. Columbus State Community College sent a statement about its statue saying:
“We are in active discussion about swiftly addressing the troubling history and legacy represented by the Christopher Columbus statue on our campus. Work already underway has been accelerated and we commit to being transparent about our plan of action.”
There is also a statue on Statehouse grounds. The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board’s members said they have not received any petitions about the monument.