PITTSBURGH, PA (October 9, 2020) After much deliberation, Mayor William Peduto today announced his agreement with the City Art Commission finding that the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park be removed, and directed that the statue be displayed in a private location still to be determined.
The Commission unanimously voted September 23 to remove the statue. After reading Commission testimony and talking to passionate advocates on both sides of the issue, the Mayor made the difficult decision that removing the statue is justified, and that it can be better displayed in a private location that places Columbus, his memory and his history in different context.
The Mayor issued a letter to the Art Commission today that reviews the celebration of Columbus by Italian-Americans who were subject to discrimination after emigrating to the United States, and the subsequent reckoning with the explorer’s support of slavery and genocide. The letter says in part:
“All four of my grandparents were Italian and personally experienced discrimination, yet learned to love their new country. I am tremendously proud to be part of the Italian-American community in Pittsburgh, just as I am proud to be Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh and to represent all people of our city.
After much thought and prayer I believe it is now time for us to return the Columbus statue to the Italian-American community that brought it into existence. They can preserve it in a manner than celebrates Italian-American culture, while acknowledging the wreckage that slavery and racism has done to America.”
The letter asks the Art Commission to make a final vote on the disposition of the statue.
No decisions have yet been made on when the statue will be removed, or the private location where it will be stored and displayed. City crews may cover the statue until it can be removed.
A copy of the Mayor’s letter is available here.