Early Wednesday morning a crane hoisted the statue of Christopher Columbus down from its pedestal in Trenton. Some onlookers cheered, but even as it laid on the ground, the statue continued to provoke controversy. Video of the removal showed shouting breaking out between members of the crowd.
Trenton’s Columbus statue was removed after a public action on June 25 called for the city to take down the statue. Niambi Aaliyah McCoy, who helped organized the action, told the crowd that the statue represents the harm done to Indigenous and Black people in America. “I want you internalize that this man that we glorify in the Chambersburg section of Trenton, New Jersey, raped and abused women who looked just like me. And he does not have a place here in Trenton,” McCoy said.
Following the action, Trenton’s mayor Reed Gusciora and other city officials met with groups of citizens about the statue, including the city’s Italian American community, some of whom do not support the decision to take down the statue. The statue was donated at a time when Chambersburg was a primarily Italian neighborhood. Italian American residents like John Scarpati see removing the statue as “saying the community don’t count no more.” However, Chambersburg today is a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, and some question whether the statue continues to represent the neighborhood.
Ultimately, the city opted to remove the statue and is considering a new location for the monument. “Christopher Columbus was a controversial figure and is not representative of the ideals our nation was found on,” Mayor Gusciora said.