PHILADELPHIA – On June 15, Mayor Kenney 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 light of ongoing public safety concerns about the presence of armed individuals at Marconi Plaza and confrontations between those who support the statue and those opposed to it, the City will seek the removal of the Columbus statue.
Today, the City is beginning that process by sharing details for how members of the public can have input. On Wednesday, July 22, the City will ask the Philadelphia Art Commission to approve the removal of the statue from Marconi Plaza. Prior to making its presentation to the Art Commission, the City will allow for public input through written submissions. The public will also have the opportunity to testify at the Art Commission meeting.
“Like many communities across the country, Philadelphia is in the midst of a much-needed reckoning about the legacy of systemic racism and oppression in this country and around the world,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Part of that reckoning requires reexamining what historical figures deserve to be commemorated in our public spaces. In recent weeks, clashes between individuals who support the statue of Christopher Columbus in Marconi Plaza and those who are distressed by its existence have deteriorated—creating a concerning public safety situation that cannot be allowed to continue. We must find a way forward that allows Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage and culture while respecting the histories and circumstances of others that come from different backgrounds.”
Public Art Director Margot Berg added, “Philadelphia’s public art should reflect the people and spirit of our city without dividing us as a community. As we’ve seen demonstrated here and across the country, many of the individuals that are celebrated in bronze and stone are a point of pride to some, while causing great pain for others whose ancestors were impacted by their actions and whose communities still suffer under systems of oppression. While it may seem counterintuitive, the reality is that one aspect of managing a public art collection is the occasional removal of works from public view.”
Residents can share their thoughts on the Christopher Columbus Statue by completing this online form by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. Members of the public will also be able to provide comments at the meeting; more details on that process will be shared on the Philadelphia Art Commission’s website when available.