Aug 21, 2023
Plywood box covering Christopher Columbus statue in South Philadelphia removed
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The statue of Christopher Columbus is visible again in
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The statue of Christopher Columbus is visible again in South Philadelphia.
The plywood box that covered the Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza was removed on Sunday night by court order after more than two years.
Only Action News was there as crews began the removal process around 8 p.m.
"I'm pretty sure there's going to be people stopping by, taking pictures," remarked Mark Momorella of South Philadelphia.
Last week, a Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania three-judge panel ruled that the wooden box must be removed.
"I was a witness and consultant on the litigation to protect the statue and remove the casing, and so finally all of our hard work came into fruition," said Robert Petrone, Esq., who stopped by the statue for a photo on Monday morning.
The fight around this statue on South Broad Street erupted in the summer of 2020 amid the protests following the death of George Floyd.
Columbus statues were coming down in other cities and attention turned to this one in South Philadelphia.
Some came armed with weapons to defend it.
"Oh, I saw it all; I just remember all the people in front of it, everything on the news," recalled Robert Minutella, who lives near the statue.
Minutella added, "To try to eliminate it, I think you don't learn from it."
It was a tense environment, and the city said they would build a wooden box around the statue while a decision was made on its future.
Since then, the city has worked to remove the statue but was met with opposition. The legal battle stretched on.
The Philadelphia Mayor's Office said they are continuing to review the court's latest ruling and released a statement reading in part:
"While we will respect this decision, we will also continue to explore our options for a way forward that allows Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage and culture while respecting the histories and circumstances of everyone's different backgrounds."