NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commission on art and monuments heard it from New Yorkers at its latest public hearing on whether some controversial statues should stay or go.
Tuesday’s debate focused on Christopher Columbus.
“He was a voyager. He wasn’t a great man. He was like an Al Franken,” one person said.
Columbus was compared to the Minnesota Senator accused of sexual misconduct.
The Columbus Circle statue has been at the center of attention in all of the city’s boroughs. In Staten Island on Tuesday, people took turns speaking before members of Mayor de Blasio’s advisory commission on city art, monuments, and markers.
The mayor appointed 18 people to the commission in September, with the goal of creating a set of guidelines for acknowledging issues surrounding controversial monuments on city owned property.
Glenn Cantave cut to the chase telling the commission and the crowd that Columbus needs to go.
“If you look in his diary, he said 9 and 10-year-old girls were in demand, and that speaks to pedophilia,” he said.
“He’s wrong. He’s interpreting the actions of a person who did something 520 years ago,” Joseph Guagliardo said.
Guagliardo, an Italian American, said he doesn’t understand all the fuss over a statue, and he’s frustrated that people are associating Christopher Columbus with Italians.
“Italy wasn’t even created. Christopher Columbus was the uncle in the next room,” he said.
Students at area high schools were speaking, many saying that all city statues are part of history, with stories behind them, and that they should all stay.
One option mentioned in weeks past; adding writing next to the monuments.
“They should just highlight the fact he wasn’t that great of a guy and did horrible things, very horrible things, and he’s still part of our history,” Denise Boardi said.
“I think the whole argument is stupid because statues don’t really do anything to you,” Laurence Toto said.
The fate of Christopher Columbus and other city monuments is unknown. A spokesperson for the mayor said the commission will have some answers by the end of the year. Commission members would not go on camera to explain what options may exist.