As passionate protests for racial equality march on around the country and here in Connecticut, some New London residents are also taking a stand to take down a controversial statue in the city.
Thousands of people have signed petitions to remove the Christopher Columbus statue, which is currently covered on its base with red spray paint.
This isn’t the first time the New London Christopher Columbus statue has been vandalized.
New London Mayor Michael Passero said public works crews won’t clean it off until the city council makes a decision about the future of the statue.
“The disappointing thing about the process is the vandalism to the statue,” the mayor said.
But Mayor Passero believes the city can come to a consensus about the future of the statue.
“The public discussion over the continued presence of the Columbus statue in New London is long overdue and I welcome that it is finally underway. I hope to help facilitate the process,” Passero said.
The decision to remove it has to be made by the city council.
At the time of publication, more than 6-thousand people signed a Change.org petition to get rid of it and replace it with one honoring leaders of the La Amistad revolt.
Petition creator Tessa Rock of New London said she thought this would be a good replacement because, “the story of La Amistad is historically illuminating to our city and it’s inclusive of all communities.”
Rock said she later learned a local youth group had already garnered thousands of signatures demanding the removal of the statue too and other changes within the community
New London’s statue was once a gift to the city.
“You have to go back 100 years and the Italian immigrant community felt like they were also not welcome. They gave the statue to the city out of appreciation for their adopted home. So New London has always been a very inclusive welcoming city,” said Mayor Passero, who said there have been rumblings about removing the statue for years.
“We weren’t taught anything about Columbus in the historical context of conquest and subjugation of native culture we should have been. Fortunately, we teach our children now a more accurate history of the man. And, this younger generation does not want that man in the middle of their city and they’ve made it clear.”
The controversy is not just in New London.
Boston’s Christopher Columbus statue was beheaded overnight.
New London’s next city council meeting is Monday, June 15 at 7 p.m. The mayor said the public can make their voices heard at the beginning of the meeting.
“I will standby to fulfill whatever decision is made regarding the statue,” Passero said.