ST. LOUIS — Tower Grove Park announced that it will form a commission to study the presence of a statue of explorer Christopher Columbus. The Columbus statue commission will issue long-term recommendations to the park's board of commissioners. This effort is to continue to enforce Tower Grove's to diversity and respectful to all.
"As the lens of history changes and things of historic nature are looked at differently then what they are today, some difficult conversation needs to be had," said Bill Reininger, executive director of Tower Grove Park.
There has been discussion recently about removing the statue after the removal of a Confederate monument in nearby Forest Park.
"The fact that people want to remove the Confederate statue because they are tied to this history that has major implications. The same thing is true with this Columbus statue," said organizer Chris Singer, who created a Facebook event page calling for the removal of the statue.
The event, scheduled for October, has over 1,000 people interested in attending.
"It glorifies a moment in our history that's not worth glorifying," Singer said.
In a press release, the park states that it will continue to be a "welcoming place in the region for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and faiths, as seen in the festivals and events it hosts, including the Festival of Nations, Pagan Picnic, Tower Grove Pride, and more. The Park welcomes this opportunity to facilitate constructive dialogue among our neighbors, visitors, and other stakeholders and impacted groups."
The Columbus statue is part of a trio by the Victorian artist Ferdinand von Miller. These statues, including William Shakespeare, appear in islands in the east-west main drive of the park.
Community stakeholders including respected members of the Native American and Italian American communities will convene in the coming weeks in an externally-facilitated discussion.
"So as we approach the subject of Christopher Columbus, we will be looking at that lens as well as how it is perceived today by individuals and organizations," Reininger said.
Tower Grove Park was established in 1868 and the statue was dedicated in October 1886. It's one of only seven National Historic Landmark urban parks in the nation.
The Columbus statue has been vandalized in the past. This is our previous report: