MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Italian-American groups on Long Island say they’ll gladly take New York City’s controversial Christopher Columbus statue.
As TV 10/55’s Richard Rose explained, they’re pledging to pay for it to be transported to Oyster Bay without the need for taxpayer money.
The groups proudly unfurled their banner in Oyster Bay’s Triangle Park in Massapequa on Monday. It’s where they say they’d also love the statue of Christopher Columbus to be placed.
The present site in Columbus Circle, where it’s stood for more than a century, has recently become a flashpoint linked to colonial abuse of indigenous Americans.
In Nassau County, the head of the Sons of Italy labeled protesters calls to change or remove the statue an insult to Italian-Americans.
“To eliminate the day or the statue is just a horror, and should not be done,” lodge leader Tony Ventiera said.
But if a commission appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio chooses to remove or even add an explanatory plaque to the Columbus statue, several Italian-American groups say they’ve got the money and town-donated space inside Triangle Park to take in the statue as is, no historical modifications needed.
“If they don’t want it, well we don’t need New York,” Farmingdale resident Al Celeste said. “Just bring it here where it belongs, to a place where people will at least honor it.”
Not all locals agree. At the neighboring Seaford train station, one Amityville resident from the Dominican Republic does not want to see the statue on Long Island and thinks it should be taken down in Columbus Circle.
“It’s a symbol of how they basically came and took advantage of the country and racism occurred,” Kelvin Abreu said.
Still, for some Italian-Americans on Long Island, it’s revisionist history and not fair to judge explorers who lived in a very different world than those now questioning their legacy and legitimacy.
De Blasio’s office responded, saying regardless of the statue commission’s review, the mayor has “no plans to do anything to the statue, much less, move it to Long Island.”