ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The statue of Christopher Columbus was taken down in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis Tuesday.
Tower Grove Park posted the following statement to their Facebook page Tuesday morning as the statue was being removed:
"Tower Grove Park celebrates the diversity of our community every day and serves as the centerpiece of the region’s most vibrant neighborhoods. When a statue of Christopher Columbus was placed in the park 140 years ago, its purpose was to celebrate the contributions of immigrants in this region. But now, for many, it symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities.
In order to ensure a safe, inclusive and pleasant environment for park visitors and team members alike, the Park’s Board of Commissioners has authorized the removal of the Columbus statue to begin the week of June 15. By taking this action, Tower Grove Park reaffirms its commitment to being a place of welcome, and to caring for the people’s park in the best way possible.
The statue’s removal comes during a growing push across the country to take down controversial statues, including Christopher Columbus. In some states, statues of the European explorer have been torn down, beheaded, and dumped into the lake.
Historical records reveal Columbus forced many natives to be slaves. According to History.com, Columbus treated them with 'extreme violence and brutality,' a far cry from the story many learned growing up of the Italian explorer who became a hero after discovering America in 1492.
“He’s not the person that we thought he was or that we were taught he was. Maybe the history has been out there all along but our educational system prioritizes the stories that benefit those in charge," said Mary Schum, who supports removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grover Park.
Last week, a petition had over 1,000 signatures to remove the statue that sat at the entrance of Tower Grove Park near Grand Avenue.
There have been calls to remove the statue for years. Last year, the park's board announced the statue would stay and said it would post signs “with important historical context about Columbus and the history of the park’s land.”
“When you have very few statues in this particular park I just think there are so many other people that represent freedom, that represent creation, that represent inclusiveness and knowing the history of Christopher Columbus is definitely different than what I learned growing up. I would certainly like to see someone that better represents the neighborhood," said Randazzo.
One person at the park, who asked to not be identified, said he thinks the statue represents our country's history and supports leaving it in Tower Grove Park.
Before the statue’s removal, the park's executive director told News 4:
"Tower Grove Park is a place of inclusion and diversity. All three statues in the park were placed there approximately 140 years ago to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to this region."
"He wasn’t even the first person to land here so I don’t really understand putting him on a statue in the first place so if it offends people, yeah, just get rid of it," said Josey Rodrigquez, who signed the petition to remove the statue.
A protest was planned for June 23rd at Piper Palm House where the Tower Grove Park Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet.