DETROIT (AP) — The city of Detroit has removed a bust of explorer Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years.
The bust has been placed in storage until its future can be determined, Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters Monday.
The move comes as cities the world over protect or remove statues and public monuments that celebrate people linked to the subjugation of minorities.
“I’ve been bothered for a while by the fact that the statue is occupying such a place of prominence next to City Hall,” Duggan said. “But when I looked at some of the violence around the country, in particular, you’ve got people with arms gathering around a Columbus statue in Philadelphia arguing with people.”
A group of people, some carrying guns and baseball bats, spent the weekend around the statue in South Philadelphia saying they intended to protect it from vandals.
“We just don’t need this,” Duggan added. “We should have a conversation as a community as to what is the appropriate place for such a statue. But I don’t want to have that conversation … at gunpoint or in the middle of argument.”
The bust in Detroit, which was unveiled in 1910, was a gift from the readers of the Italian newspaper La Tribuna Italiana d’America, according to historicdetroit.org.
The inscription reads, “Christopher Columbus, a great son of Italy. Born 1435 – Died 1506. Discovered America October 12, 1492.”
Howard Zinn’s 1980 book, “A People’s History of the United States,” introduced the general public to the atrocities committed by Columbus and his crew against indigenous people. His book mirrored the findings of other historians and ethnic studies scholars.
By the 1990s, a new generation of Native American activists blamed Columbus for launching centuries of indigenous genocide.