Detroit Stashes Christopher Columbus Bust to Avert Risk of Clashes

June 15, 2020, 2:28 PM by  Allan Lengel

Awareness, sensitivity and attitudes have changed since 1910, when this gift to Detroit from an Italian-Americans was dedicated.

Saying he wants to avoid trouble, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday said the Christopher Columbus sculpture near city hall is stashed in storage pending a community discussion about its future.

"When I looked at some of the violence around the country ... you got people with arms gathering around a Columbus statue in Philadelphia arguing with people. We just don't need this. We should have a conversation as a community as to what is the approrpriate place for such a statue. But I don't want to have that conversation ... at gunpoint or in the middle of arguments."

The monument, a gift from readers of the Italian newspaper La Tribuna Italiana d'America, was dedicatd on Oct. 12, 1910 -- the 400th anniversary of Columbus' death. It had been on a pedestal at Jefferson Avenue and Randolph since the late 1980s.

Statues of the explorer, as well as those of Confederate figures, have been removed recently around the country in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. 

Columbus, an Italian explorer, became a cultural icon in America, and eventually a holiday was named after him.  But in more recent times groups have protested his status, pointing to his history of being a brutal, violent man involved in slavery and genocide.

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