Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomenortheastRhode Island’s highly criticized Columbus statue re-emerges in nearby town after being...

Rhode Island’s highly criticized Columbus statue re-emerges in nearby town after being removed 3 years ago

Three years after a Christopher Columbus statue was removed from a square in Providence, Rhode Island, the bronze cast has re-emerged, this time in a park in Johnston, Rhode Island, about 9 miles west of the capital.

The statue had been targeted by vandals, at one point being splashed with red paint with a sign reading “Stop celebrating genocide” leaning against its pedestal. In 2020, the statue was removed.

Activists say celebrating Columbus ignores the rape, murder and genocide endured by Indigenous people during the European settlement of North America.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. said residents of his heavily Italian-American town are pleased to give the statue a new home.


Darrell Waldron, director of the Rhode Island Indian Council said there’s no love lost between Native peoples and the legacy of Columbus.

“I think Columbus opened a Pandora’s box for Indigenous people,” he said. “People who were the victims of rape and murder and genocide were not writing the history.”

At the time that the statue was being removed in Providence, Waldron – the son of a Narragansett father and Wampanoag mother — said he and others hoped that the statue would have been sold off and kept out of public view, with any proceeds going to help fund a Native statue.

“I would love to see a statue of Native women,” he said. “It doesn’t always have to be a man.”

The debate over the statue comes amid a larger debate about what to call the federal holiday that falls on Monday, Oct. 9, this year.

In 2021, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, lending a boost to efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Columbus toward an appreciation of Native peoples.


Most Popular