Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Workers Remove Statue of Christopher Columbus From Downtown San Antonio Park

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 1:16 PM

click to enlarge SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO
  • San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo
On Tuesday, a small work crew quietly took down a Christopher Columbus statue that served as the focal point of a downtown San Antonio park since 1956.

The statue, originally donated by Christopher Columbus Italian Society, had emerged as a flashpoint for activists, who say the explorer's history of slavery and oppression of indigenous people shouldn't be celebrated on city property. Recent street protests for racial justice stepped up calls for removal of the statue, which was recently vandalized with red paint.

To prevent damage to the statue, District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño struck a deal to return it to the Italian Society and change the name of the public space to Piazza Italia Park from Columbus Park.

Council is expected to approve the agreement in August. 

click to enlarge Activist Antonio Diaz addresses the crowd at a recent protest against the statue. - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO
  • San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo
  • Activist Antonio Diaz addresses the crowd at a recent protest against the statue.
Activist Antonio Diaz, who has fought for the statue's removal for more than 20 years, told the Current he appreciates Treviño's arrangement, even if it's long overdue.

"The terrors [Columbus] committed on indigenous people are horrific," Diaz said via email. "Our children shouldn't be taught that being colonized was some betterment or an enlightenment. It was genocide, and that's Columbus' true history. He is the cornerstone of institutional racism in the Americas."

A protest last weekend drew roughly 50 protesters, including indigenous rights activists and members of the Black Lives Matter movement. Tempers flared as police penned in participants with their bicycles and armed counter demonstrators made an appearance.

Emblematic of the powerful cries for the removal of statues representing racism and oppression, Columbus, Ohio, also removed a 20-foot metal statue of the explorer from outside its city hall on Tuesday.

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