Newark Mayor Ras Baraka this morning issued the following statement:
“In keeping with the movement to remove symbols of oppression and white supremacy, we have decided to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Washington Park. We took it down with City work crews in a safe and orderly manner, to avoid the potential danger of people taking it upon themselves to topple it.”
Mayor Baraka said the statue will be kept in storage until the City decides what to do with it.
The statue was dedicated as gift to the City from the Italian-American community.
“The removal of this statue should not be perceived as an insult to the Italian-American community,” Mayor Baraka said. “It is a statement against the barbarism, enslavement, and oppression that this explorer represents.”
According to Newark historian J. Bennett:
The idea for a Newark Columbus statue came from Mr. John Di Biase, a member of the Giuseppe Verdi Society. From 1924 to 1927, $25,000 came in from all over “Nevarca,” and the statue was erected under the auspices of the Columbus Monument Committee, a wing of the Verdi Society.
Newark’s Christopher Columbus was unveiled on Columbus Day, 1927, in front of a crowd of 30,000 to 50,000. Before the unveiling of the statue there was a parade where Italian Newarkers in costume and on floats enacted events from Columbus’ life.
The guests of honor in the unveiling ceremonies were Governor Moore, Italian Vice-Consul Mario Vittani, and Judge Walter D. Van Riper.