The New York City Council is currently considering a proposal that could result in the removal of monuments dedicated to historical figures with controversial pasts, such as George Washington, Peter Stuyvesant, and Christopher Columbus. The Democrat-led council’s Cultural Affairs Committee is set to hold a public hearing on this proposal, which has drawn criticism from those who view it as an example of cancel culture.
Angelo Vivolo, president of the Columbus Heritage Coalition, expressed his opposition to any attempts to remove monuments of the famous Italian explorer. He argued that “Columbus was a migrant!” and pledged to resist efforts to eliminate the statue at Columbus Circle.
The proposed legislation would require the city’s Public Design Commission to publish a plan to remove works of art on city property that depict a person who owned enslaved persons, directly benefited economically from slavery, or participated in systemic crimes against indigenous peoples or other crimes against humanity. If a statue or monument is determined to honor such a person, but the commission votes not to remove it, the city would be required to install an explanatory plaque about the historical figure’s misdeeds.
Brooklyn council member Sany Nurse, who authored the bill, explained that it would also require consultation between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Education to install plaques on sidewalks or other public spaces adjacent to schools named after individuals who meet the criteria.
There are numerous monuments on city property honoring figures like George Washington, America’s first president and a slaveholder, and Peter Stuyvesant, a Dutch governor and early New York settler who also owned slaves. Other figures who have schools in the city named after them include John Jay and Dewitt Clinton, both of whom were slaveholders.
While Christopher Columbus is celebrated for discovering the New World, he has been targeted for his brutal treatment of native populations during his travels. Monuments dedicated to him have been removed in other locations.
Critics of the proposal argue that it represents an attempt by the radical left to rewrite the nation’s history. Council Republican Minority Leader Joe Borelli criticized his Democratic colleagues for turning the council into a punchline with their focus on this issue.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio also created a panel to review monuments honoring famous figures to see if any should be removed due to a history of inhumane actions. However, the panel ended up focusing on just four public monuments, with only one figure, controversial 1800s gynecologist Dr. J. Marion Sims, being removed.
Vivolo expressed his intention to fight against this proposal, stating that the Italian-American community would strongly oppose any move to ban Columbus, who he views as a symbol of Italian-American accomplishment. He also expressed concern about the potential removal of monuments dedicated to figures like Washington and Jefferson.