A petition to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus on the Parkway in Utica is gaining steam, gathering over 500 signatures.

The death of George Floyd as the result of police brutality has led to widespread protests, and a re-examination of symbols that can be interpreted as racist, or as monuments to problematic historical figures, by some.

In the wake of protests, NASCAR has banned the display of the Confederate flag at its races and by its drivers. Monuments to confederate leaders have been toppled by protesters, or may be removed or relocated and displayed with an appropriate historical context. In Albany, a statue of Phillip Schuyler outside of City Hall will be removed.

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Now the effort to remove monuments to controversial figures has made it to Utica. A petition is circulating on Change.org to remove the statue of Columbus that stands on Memorial Parkway where it intersects with Mohawk Street. .

According to the petition, "the undersigned support the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue located at the intersection of Memorial Parkway and Mohawk St in Utica."

"We believe it is high time that the City of Utica is more inclusive of the original inhabitants of Upstate New York, indigenous people who were massacred by colonizers like Columbus."

Though Columbus is widely credited with “discovering” America, Smithsonian magazine’s Brian Handwerk points out that Native Americans lived on the continent for some 15,000 years prior to his arrival. Moreover, the explorer never even set foot on the North American mainland. And, during his four voyages to the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America, he enslaved and killed thousands of indigenous people.

Governor Cuomo has weighed in on the push to remove a Columbus statue in NYC. “I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support. But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” Cuomo said. “So for that reason I support it.”

Do you think it's time to remove the statue of Columbus?


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