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The statue has been a part of Marconi Plaza for 144 years. Photo: Wikipedia.org
The statue has been a part of Marconi Plaza for 144 years. Photo: Wikipedia.org

Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza will stay up as Mayor Jim Kenney appeals court decision

The judge said the city had no “legal basis” for the statue’s removal.

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On Tuesday, Aug. 17, a judge blocked the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue located in Marconi Plaza in South Philly, and it will stay in place at its original location. 

In response, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced on Thursday, Aug. 19 that he will file an appeal in Common Pleas Court challenging the decision

A spokesperson from the Kenney administration told Fox 29 News about the appeal.

“We are very disappointed with the ruling and filed an appeal today. The statue remains in Marconi Plaza and remains in its existing box today,” the spokesperson said.

The statue, which has been standing at the same location for over 144 years, became the center of a heated debate last Summer during the George Floyd protests.

Protestors said the statue represented the genocide, colonization, and theft Christopher Columbus committed against populations of indigenous Arawak Indians

Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick described the case as ‘an error of law’.

"It is baffling to this court as to how the city of Philadelphia wants to remove the statue without any legal basis. The city's entire argument and case is devoid of any legal foundation," Patrick wrote in a seven-page document.

The ruling overturned the decisions by the City of Philadelphia Board of License and Inspection Review in 2020 and later the Philadelphia Historical Commission to remove the controversial statute, citing that it represented hate and racism.

Patrick also said that to approve the removal of the statue, the city must find that the removal was “necessary in the public interest.”

“In this case, the Board erred by performing the Philadelphia Humanities Council (PHC) decision to remove the statue because there was insufficient evidence in the record to make the determination that it was “necessary in the public interest,” she said.

An attorney for the Friends of Marconi Plaza, George Bochetto, told Action News that although Americans have the right to protest, “they shouldn't dictate public policy.”

"Everybody is entitled to a protest, but mobs don't rule, processes rule," Bochetto said.

Protests erupted in Philadelphia in June 2020 over the police murder of George Floyd. Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minn. by former police officer Derek Chauvin after the latter knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed.

Floyd was compliant and begged Chauvin to let him breathe.

The traumatic event inspired millions of frustrated people in the U.S. and around the globe to take to the streets and demand the end of racism and police brutality towards Black people.

However, the Columbus statue is not the only controversial symbol in the country.

In mid-July, a public sculpture of Confederate Leader Nathan Bedford Forrest was removed and placed inside of the Tennessee State Museum. A park named after him was also re-branded.

Also, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, recently removed a statue of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson monument in July 2021. The monuments were topics of discussion and the basis for the Aug. 12, 2017, Unite the Right Rally, which ended in the death of Heather Heyer.

So far, the Marconi Plaza Columbus statue sits at its original spot secured by a wooden box.

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