News and Commentary

Saved: Judge Thwarts Mayor’s Attempt To Remove Historic Columbus Monument
Artem Dunaev / EyeEm via Getty Images.

A judge has ruled that a historic Columbus monument in Syracuse, New York, can remain in its current location after Mayor Ben Walsh tried to take it down and move it. 

State Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri ruled late last week that the statue should not be moved and that the city did not have the legal right to take it down.

Syracuse’s monument to the explorer, was dedicated in 1934 and sculpted in Florence, Italy. The statue was put up in large part through the efforts and funds of Italian immigrants who wanted to honor their heritage as Italians and new Americans. 

Judge Neri said in the ruling that the city of Syracuse, “no legal right to alter the piece of art known as the Christopher Columbus Monument or remove same or any part of it from its present place on St. Mary’s Circle, commonly known as Columbus Circle, in the city of Syracuse.”

Efforts to save the statue were led by the Columbus Monument Corporation, a group dedicated to preserving the monument and honoring the memory of Columbus. 

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to preserve the historic Columbus Monument as is, in its original location, where it was dedicated by over 40,000 Onondaga County citizens in 1934,” the Corporation said in a statement following the ruling. “We appreciate the Court’s careful consideration of our petition requesting that this important public art be preserved. The decision reflects the extent to which the court heard and analyzed the arguments of all parties.”

According to Neri, Walsh did not consult with the city’s Common Council and did not have the ability to remove the monument on his own. The judge also noted it would be against the city charter to remove the statue.

Columbus monuments across the country have come under fire in recent years as some allege that the explorer represents the evils of Western imperialism. However, groups like the Columbus Monument Corporation have fought to maintain monuments to the Italian explorer. 

“It remains the position of the Columbus Monument Corporation and the other petitioners that changes by certain community leaders about their interpretation, sensitivity and historical perspective is not a basis to destroy or remove the Columbus Monument,” the organization said. 

They also added that they were not opposed to other historic monuments being put up, they just did not want Columbus taken away. 

Despite the judge’s ruling, Walsh, an Independent who won reelection in November has said he will appeal the ruling. 

“The City of Syracuse will appeal the decision and looks forward to presenting its position to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division,” he said in a statement. 

Back in October while the fight over the statue was ongoing, Anthony Ilacqua, of the Columbus Monument Corporation told The Daily Wire he thought the statue was an important part of the city’s history.  

“This monument is very much a part of our family heritage. It wasn’t put up by unknown people in the past. We know who built it. We know who sculpted it, who raised the money,” he told The Daily Wire. “We know who put it up. It’s very much our monument. We take pride in it and celebrate it every year.”