By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Protesters gathered in Schenley Park and called for the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue.

No Racist Statues Pittsburgh is the group that peacefully protested on Monday night. At one point, the demonstrators spray-painted the plastic that covers the statue, and the police then formed a line in front of the statue.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The group said Columbus represents genocide and racism.

“I think the statue should be destroyed completely and we should forget about Christopher Columbus,” Raheem Hani of Pittsburgh told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso.

Last week, Mayor Bill Peduto recommended that the Christopher Columbus statue be removed. The recommendation came after the Art Commission voted 3-0 in favor of removing the statue.

Over the weekend, the statue was covered in plastic, and the city says it may stay covered until it’s taken down. According to the mayor’s office, the statue will be displayed in a private location yet to be determined.

The move follows heated debates between Native American groups that say the statue represents genocide and slavery and Italian Americans who say it represents their contributions to the city.

The Italian Sons & Daughters of America filed for an injunction to keep the statue where it has been for decades.

“If it wasn’t for Christopher Columbus, we wouldn’t be here. He discovered America,” Johnny D. of Pittsburgh told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso.

WATCH: KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso Has More On The Protest

Mayor Peduto, who is Italian American, says it is time for the statue to come down and be preserved in a manner that celebrates Italian culture while acknowledging the damage that slavery and racism have done to America.

RELATED STORIES:

The statue was vandalized twice this summer.

Mayor Peduto recommended that the Art Commission makes a final decision on the statue during its next meeting, which is Oct. 28.

“When we look at public spaces, the public spaces belong to all,” Mayor Peduto said Monday. “And though our views may be very strong, we have to respect the view of others and I think there will be a way that we can find a private location within the city of Pittsburgh where the Italian community can celebrate its culture and be able to explain both sides of the history.”