Hartford, Connecticut has removed a statue of Christopher Columbus that sat in the shadow of the state Capitol since 1926 amid a national outcry over statues honoring historical figures who participated in slavery and discrimination. After Mayor Luke Bronin vowed on June 15 to take the Columbus statue down, city workers quietly removed the monument Monday morning, finishing just before 7 a.m, according to The Hartford Courant.
Michael Looney, acting director of public works, told the paper that the statue would be placed in storage until the city determines what to do with it. "The emphasis is on getting it down and crated," he said. Bronin added in a statement to the paper that the city will continue to work with the Italian American community to find a "better way to honor and commemorate the Italian American community’s immense contributions to our community and our country."
"Even during his own life and by the standards of his own time, Columbus was known and punished for his extraordinary tyranny and brutality," he continued, "and there are better ways and more worthy heroes to honor the proud heritage and legacy of our Italian American community."
Hartford's is just one of the many statues of Columbus that were removed amid the ongoing protests against racism in the U.S. Earlier this month, a statue of the explorer in Boston’s Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park was beheaded, although a group lobbying for the statue's return told the Boston Herald they have heard the statue will eventually be restored.
"We have an understanding with the mayor’s office that statute will be repaired and returned to the place it was before, but this time with better security and cameras to prevent vandalism from happening again," said Francis Mazzaglia of the Italian American Alliance.
The same day, a similar scene unfolded in Virginia's Byrd Park, where protesters used a rope to pull down the city's Columbus monument, pulling it approximately 200 yards and submerging it in Fountain Lake, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Activist Chelsea Higgs-Wise told the crowd at the time, "We have to start where it all began — we have to start with the people who stood first on this land." Tamara Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the parks and recreation department, confirmed that the statue had since been removed from the lake and taken to an undisclosed location.