RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two years after it was toppled by protesters, Richmond City Council has given away a statue of Christopher Columbus to a local Italian-American organization.
The statue of Columbus, which stood over Byrd Park, was torn down and thrown into a nearby lake in the Summer of 2020, during a spontaneous demonstration in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Officer.
These photos show the aftermath of the statue’s destruction by protesters in 2020.
Now, the statue will go to the Italian American Cultural Association of Virginia, an organization based in Richmond that celebrates Italian culture. In a newsletter published ahead of the council’s final decision, IACA member John Corritone celebrated the transfer.
“Since September, things have moved quickly as I have been in negotiations with the City to finalize the transfer of the Columbus statue to our organizations for safekeeping, evaluation and placement where one day people can safely enjoy Columbus as a work of art & again appreciate its symbolic history for all Americans,” he wrote.
He added that repairs to the statue would cost an estimated $5,000 to $7,000 and that the Virginia Museum of History and Culture had expressed interest in displaying the statue as part of a 2026 exhibition entitled “Immigration in America.”
Richmond’s was not the only Columbus statue to be removed in the wake of a reckoning over the legacy of racism in the United States. In Connecticut, a statue of Columbus was beheaded and ultimately restored by a city referendum, and in Chicago, a Columbus statue was removed by decree of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Though Columbus was until recently widely celebrated as the discoverer of America and a symbol of Italian-American history (Columbus sailed for Spain but hailed from what is now the modern state of Italy), his legacy has been re-evaluated in light of his violent suppression of the native peoples of the Caribbean and his promotion of slavery.
Documents uncovered in the early 2000s revealed that his rule was so tyrannical that the King and Queen of Spain ordered him placed in chains and recalled from the colony of Hispaniola.
Following the toppling of the statue in Byrd Park, Mayor Levar Stoney wrote, “The atrocities inflicted upon indigenous people by Christopher Columbus are unconscionable… But the decision & action to remove a monument should be made in collaboration w/the community.”
The City of Richmond has not observed Columbus Day since 2019, instead opting to observe Indigenous Peoples Day on the same date.