Fate of Providence’s Christopher Columbus statue may not be known until fall


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — On Tuesday, the Providence Board of Parks Commissioners heard from the public on what they want to see done with the city’s Christopher Columbus statue.

Last month, the statue was boarded up after vandals threatened to tear it down. It was later removed from the Elmwood neighborhood and is currently stored in a “secure location,” according to Department of Parks and Recreation superintendent Wendy Nilsson.

The statue has been vandalized multiple times over the years, even after it was boarded up.

David Talan is part of the Reservoir Triangle Neighborhood Association. He says the statue has a special meaning to his neighborhood and serves as a gateway to it.

“So when the time comes to put it where it belongs, where it belongs is my neighborhood,” Talan said during Tuesday’s Zoom meeting.

Joey Gizzarelli started a petition to relocate the statue to a museum, “where it can be surrounded by the historical context of Columbus’s genocidal atrocities committed on the indigenous people,” he said, “as well as putting an end to the unhealthy glorification of white supremacy and colonization by the Italian American community.”

Jenny Sparks works at The Steel Yard in Providence and suggested the statue be repurposed to honor indigenous people.

Sparks said The Steel Yard is proposing the city melt down the statue and work with indigenous artists to create a new piece from the bronze.

Right now, the Special Committee for Commemorative works is still reviewing options for the statue, but the Board of Parks Commissioners will have the final say.

Nilsson said she doesn’t anticipate any recommendations being put before the board anytime before the fall. She also hopes the committee will look at all other city statues in the same context.

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