PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney today announced plans to initiate a public process to consider the future of the Christopher Columbus statue located in Marconi Plaza on South Broad Street. In a letter, the Mayor asked the Public Art Director to initiate the appropriate process through the Philadelphia Art Commission.No decision has been made on whether the City will remove the statue. A boxing apparatus will be installed around the statue tomorrow (Tuesday) in order to preserve it while the Art Commission process is followed. A timeline for the public process is still pending.

Mayor Jim Kenney: 

“The Christopher Columbus statue has been a source of controversy in Philadelphia, as have similar installations across our country. Christopher Columbus, like many historical figures, has supporters and detractors. For centuries, he has been venerated with the stories of his traversing the Atlantic and “discovering” the “New World.” However, his history is much more infamous. Mistakenly believing he had found a new route to India, Columbus enslaved indigenous people and punished those who failed to meet his expected service by severing limbs, or in some cases, murder.

“Surely, the totality of this history must be accounted for when considering whether to maintain a monument to this person. Given that many are now calling for the removal of the statue, and others believe it should remain, I have directed the Art Commission to review the statue, its location, and its appropriateness in a public park. We are committed to listening to all points of view and moving forward in the best way to heal our deep divides.

“I believe that a public process will allow for all viewpoints—especially those of indigenous people whose ancestors suffered under the rule of European colonizers—to be considered. It’s also my hope that by initiating this process, the current tensions in Marconi Plaza can end. I urge all South Philadelphians attempting to protect the statue to stand down and have your voices heard through the public process.”