The Philadelphia Art Commission, which approves the design and location of construction projects and public art on city property, voted Wednesday to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus in Marconi Plaza.
The commission voted 8-0 with one abstention to remove the statue, with the caveat that the city report back on its process to find the statue a new permanent home every six months.
“I would like to see the sculpture removed from its space for a lot of reasons, one of them is safety for both the sculpture and the public. I would like to see it put into storage and a group of people immediately get together and start figuring out how to get it on private property, ” Philadelphia Art and Architecture Commission member Robert Roesch said.
Roesch went on to say he couldn’t imagine seeing the statue sitting in storage the rest of its life and voted it should be temporarily removed. Art commission member Carmen Miguel said both sides had very strong arguments for the statue and removing it didn’t mean destroying it.
The Italian American community has adopted the statue of Christopher Columbus as a symbol of a long journey, Philadelphia Art Commission Chair Alan Greenberger said during Wednesday’s vote.
Not everyone is OK with this decision, according the Lauren Cox, a spokeswoman for the city. She tells CNN a lawyer filed a motion to stay the removal of the statue which is pending, she said.
Although the city’s legal team is reviewing the stay, a judge has partially granted it until the city responds if they plan to move forward with the conditions set forth by the Historical and Art Commissions, she said in a brief statement.
“It’s incumbent on the city to really work with local community groups to figure out how that story of the Italian American immigration to this country gets told. It doesn’t have to be told as a statue,” Greenberger said.
This decision comes after the Philadelphia Historical Commission argued to relocate the statue in July, which then required the final vote to be made by city’s art commission.
“The city is grateful for both the Art Commission and the Philadelphia Historical Commission for approving the administration’s proposal to relocate the Christopher Columbus statue,” Cox tells CNN.
“As Philadelphia — and the nation — continue to reckon with the deep legacy of racism and oppression in America, it is critical that our public spaces are seen as safe, welcoming and inclusive for all people,” Cox said.
“The hearings held in July provided an important opportunity for members of the public to share their opinions about the future of the statue in Marconi Plaza. Now, it is time to begin moving forward with another small step toward healing for our city. Philadelphia’s public art must reflect the people and spirit of our city, not divide us. The Columbus statue has been a source of controversy in Philadelphia throughout the summer, and we are eager to begin the process of its relocation to storage,” she said.
The removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Philadelphia comes amid nationwide calls to remove historic statues that many people believe don’t show an accurate picture of history.