Box covering Columbus statue in Philadelphia painted with Italian flag colors

The statue has been covered by a box as the city fights to remove it after the 2020 George Floyd riots.

Published: October 10, 2022 5:05pm

Updated: October 10, 2022 5:50pm

A Christopher Columbus statue in Philadelphia is covered by a box as the court battle over its fate continues, but the box has been painted with the Italian flag colors. 

Philadelphia officials told the KYW news station that they painted the plywood box surrounding the 146-year-old statue with green, white, and red stripes at the request of Councilmember Mark Squilla, who represents the district. The statue is in south Philadelphia's Marconi Plaza. 

The paint job was completed just before Columbus Day, which is now celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Philadelphia is home to many residents with Italian heritage who celebrate Columbus with annual parades, which they did on Sunday, viewing the explorer as a symbol of their heritage, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Thomas DeFino, a Philadelphia resident, said: "They did it for us — the Italians. It made us feel a little bit better. It's to honor our heritage. They had to pull some strings to paint it."

However, he added, "It's still in a box. He should have been taken out at least for one day," noting that his Italian ancestors settled in the city more than 100 years ago. 

Mabel Negrete, executive director of Indigenous Peoples' Day Philly Inc., criticized painting the box and Italian Americans in the city celebrating Columbus.

"It doesn't seem like the right direction to continue to celebrate and attach themselves to somebody who has a history that is so complicated and problematic," Negrete said. "It's unfortunate."

Following Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd's death in June 2020, Mayor Jim Kenney ordered the removal of the Columbus statue for public safety concerns, according to the Associated Press.

However, a judge ruled last year that the city's decision didn't include evidence that removing the statue was necessary to protect the public. 

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