box covering the columbus statue sporting colors of the italian flag

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A statue of Christopher Columbus in Philadelphia is hidden by a plywood box while his fate is decided in the courts, but the box is now painted with the colors of the Italian flag.

City officials told news station KYW that they painted the box covering the 146-year-old statue in South Philadelphia’s Marconi Plaza with green, white, and red stripes, with Mark Squila, a council member representing the district. is on request.

The facelift came in time for Columbus Day, the holiday now celebrated as Indigenous People’s Day in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Thomas DeFino, who gathered in the park on Sunday afternoon to celebrate his Italian American heritage with parades and festivities, welcomed the change.

“They did it for us – the Italians. It made us feel a little bit better,” DeFino said. “It’s to honor our heritage. They had to pull some strings to paint it.”

While he appreciated the gesture, DeFino said, he added that the statue was “still in a box.”

“She should have been taken out at least for a day,” he said.

Mabel Negret, executive director of the Indigenous Peoples de Philly Inc., told the Inquirer that it was “unfortunate” that some Italian Americans in the city continued to celebrate Columbus. The painting of the box in the colors of the Italian flag, she said, “undermines the intention to proceed.”

Supporters in Philadelphia, a city with a deep Italian heritage, say they see Columbus as a symbol of that heritage.

Mayor Jim Kenney said Columbus had been revered as an explorer for centuries, but had a “much more infamous” history, enslaving indigenous peoples and inflicting punishments such as cutting off limbs or even death. To give.

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In June 2020, after protests about racial injustice began and some people focused on the statue, Kenny ordered its removal, citing it as a matter of public safety. However, last year a judge overturned the city’s decision, saying it had failed to provide evidence that the statue’s removal was necessary to protect the public.

The Enquirer reported that a settlement of a lawsuit announced last year allowed the 106-foot-tall Christopher Columbus Monument at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River to remain for the foreseeable future, with the coverings removed.