A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, group that fought to have a box removed from covering up a Christopher Columbus statue in a south side park has filed a lawsuit against the city’s mayor and members of the historical commission for threatening to remove the statue.
The Friends of Marconi Plaza filed the lawsuit on May 25 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, demanding a jury trial and naming Mayor James Kenney, as well as Robert Thomas, Kimberly Washington, Daniel McCoubrey, Emily Cooperman, Jonathan E. Farnham, Kenneth Woodson, Ralph S. Pinkus and Stephen Petit.
The defendants are accused of voting with malice in several administrative hearings to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from Marconi Plaza, and engaging in misconduct by following instructions from Kenney to vote how he wanted them to vote, the lawsuit alleges.
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“Acting through the Philadelphia Historical Commission (“PHC”) and the Philadelphia Board of Licenses & Inspection Review (the “Board”), Defendants abused and exceeded their legal authority in a malicious conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff and the citizens of Philadelphia of their civil rights,” the suit reads.
In 1876, the Italian-American community of Philadelphia donated a statue of Christopher Columbus to the city to celebrate the country’s 100-year anniversary.
The statue was sculpted in Italy out of marble, and funded by numerous groups and individuals, including then king of Italy, King Victor Emmanuel II.
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Not only did the statue pay homage to Columbus’ discovery of the new world for European nations, but it was also emblematic of the journey of many Italian-Americans who came to the U.S. for a new life.
For centuries, Columbus was credited with discovering America, but throughout that course, the European pioneer was found to have treated indigenous people already on the land poorly.
Things really came to a head in 2020, when the statue became a symbol of hate to some, and to others it was a symbol of important history.
The two groups clashed as those who supported the historical importance protected the statue from vandalism. The clash became violent, and people were arrested.
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As a result, the statue was covered with a box, and out of concern for public safety, Kenney ordered the statue be removed.
Although Columbus was celebrated as an explorer for centuries, Kenney said he had a “much more infamous” history of enslaving and punishing the indigenous people, including severing limbs and death.
Kenney’s decision to remove the statue was overturned by a judge who said city officials failed to prove the statue posed a threat to public safety.
In December 2022, a commonwealth court ruling allowed for a wood box painted with green, white and red stripes to be removed from covering the statue.
The judge also allowed for a clear structure to be built around the statue.
Source: Fox News