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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A Columbus Day question: Where’s his statue?

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Ken Mammarella
Ken Mammarella is a freelance writer who lives in Wilmington.

Christopher Columbus statue
Wilmington removed this statue of Christopher Columbus and placed it in storage. City of Wilmington photo

In June, in response to protests that started after the death George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Wilmington removed statues of Christopher Columbus and Caesar Rodney and placed them in storage. Here’s what has happened since.

Nothing.

No evaluation of their future, according to John Rago, deputy chief of staff for policy and communications for Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.

No public hearings.

 

The public has offered unsolicited input. “A variety, as you can imagine,” he said. “Keep them down, put them back up and everything in between.”

“The mayor said at some point the climate will be right to publicly discuss statues, public commemorations, etc.,” he added.

The Columbus statue was on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the Rodney statue in Rodney Square.

Purzycki said in June the statues were being removed and stored “so there can be an overdue discussion about the public display of historical figures and events.”

 

Joe Sielski founded a Facebook group calling for the Columbus statue to be removed. “People who truly understood his history saw his presence as a threat,” he said in June.

Since then, the group has acquired 480 members. Postings lately have been more about indigenous peoples and progressive causes rather than the statue.

A celebration of “the rich culture of indigenous people in the Americas” is planned at noon Sunday at Peter Spencer Plaza, according to a posting from Jea Porter Street II to that group. It says the plaza is in Garvey City, with a ZIP code that matches downtown Wilmington. Garvey City has its own Facebook page, indicating it was named for Jamaican Marcus Garvey.

Oct. 12 is governmentally recognized as Columbus Day. It is also Indigenous Peoples’ Day.


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