By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is recommending the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park be removed.
This comes after the Art Commission voted 3-0 in favor of removing the Columbus statue.
The mayor’s office says the statue will be displayed in a private location still to be determined. His office says he thought the statue could be displayed somewhere else that “places Columbus, his memory and his history in different context.”
The commission’s vote followed emotional debates between members of the Italian American community and Native Americans. Italian Americans say removing the statue would erase their contributions to the city, while Native Americans say the statue represents slavery and genocide.
“All four of my grandparents were Italian and personally experienced discrimination, yet learned to love their new country. I am tremendously proud to be part of the Italian-American community in Pittsburgh, just as I am proud to be Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh and to represent all people of our city,” a letter from the mayor to the Art Commission says.
“After much thought and prayer I believe it is now time for us to return the Columbus statue to the Italian-American community that brought it into existence. They can preserve it in a manner than celebrates Italian-American culture, while acknowledging the wreckage that slavery and racism has done to America.”
The letter also says he’s turning the decision back over to the Art Commission, asking them to take a final vote. The statue was vandalized twice this summer.
“As a descendent of the people that he directly impacted, to me, I am just or even more insulted and offended by the presence of this statue,” said Miguel Sague Jr., a board member of the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center.
Some do not agree with the mayor’s decision, including at-large Allegheny County Councilperson Sam DeMarco.
“Italian Americans who played such a critical role in building this city, I can’t imagine they feel anything but insulted,” he said.
The city says there is no timeline for removal and no plans for where it is headed. The city says it may be covered until it is removed.