SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – The Christopher Columbus statue, a gift to the City of San Antonio, has been removed from the park where it stood for more than 60 years.
Members of the Christopher Columbus Italian Society, the organization that donated the statue to the city in 1957, stood by and watched Wednesday morning as a crew took it down and hauled it away for cleaning after someone splashed red paint on it last week.
Members of the Christopher Columbus Italian Society, the organization that donated the statue to the city in 1957, stood by and watched Wednesday morning as a crew took it down and hauled it away for cleaning after someone splashed red paint on it last week. Indigenous activists who have fought for removal of the statue, City manager Erik Walsh and Councilman Robert Treviño also watched the careful removal of the sculpture which, most likely, will never return to overlook Columbus Park in an area of downtown San Antonio that was settled by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s.
City Council in August will vote on a proposal drawn up by the Italian Society and Treviño, which would return the statue to the organization and change the name of Columbus Park to Piazza Italia. The Society also would work with the San Antonio Arts Commission and the Historic Design and Review Commission to come up with a new symbol to replace the statue.
“Groups came together. We put aside our passions and we talked about a solution that would work,” said Paolo Cristadoro with the Society. “I’m glad that we jumped on this when we did before it got out of control.”
The organization was concerned after seeing Columbus statues in other parts of the country damaged or destroyed. After the vanadalism last week, the Society sent a letter to the city, urging them to move quickly on the proposal.
Indigenous groups have fought for decades to remove images of Christopher Columbus from public places. While history books hailed him as a brave explorer who discovered America in 1492, others see him as the father of the transatlantic slave trade who was responsible for the genocide of Indigenous peoples.
“I think the statue coming down today was a testament to how strong Black and Indigenous solidarity is when we work together,” said Jennifer Falcon with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Cristadoro told KTSA News while the Italian Society’s view of Columbus may be different from those of other groups, they wanted to be respectful.
“We wanted to be sensitive to that, and at the same time, get the statue back in one piece, not being destroyed, the property not being destroyed, and no one getting hurt,” Cristadoro said. “I think we succeeded with that.”
Falcon called the removal of the statue a step in the right direction.
“I don’t see any problem with city council voting to leave the statue down and return it to the Italian Society,”she said. “I think, definitely, we want to have conversations about removing other racist statues in San Antonio.”