Residents concerned about statue in Southington


SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Since Charlottesville, people have a heightened awareness about what historical statues represent and many have been taken down.

However, in Southington, there are concerns about a statue that’s going up.

The town council unanimously approved the statue back in 2015, but those who oppose it say the town needed to do more to let them know it was a possibility.

It’s covered up for now, but this is a not so secret statue that has some people in Southington questioning the town’s values.

“I was definitely shocked. When you put up a statue on public land you’re really trying to say something about the values of your community,” said Erica Roggeven Byrne of Southington Women for Progress.

When the statue is uncovered, it has a plaque that credits Columbus with discovering America, a belief that has been controversial in recent decades.

Erica Roggeven Byrne founded Southington Women for Progress and is rallying support against the statue.

“The inscription that’s written on it is historically inaccurate and as I said, we know that that’s not true,” she said.

The Knights of Columbus Southington Chapter presented the idea of the statue to the town council in September of 2015.

The group said they would raise the funds, but put it on town property in front of the municipal center.

The council voted that night in favor of the statue.

News 8 reached out to Council Chair Michael Riccio on Friday.

Heading out of town he replied via email saying, “There was public input months ago. It was advertised on the agenda and not one person came out and spoke against it. Zero.”

“It’s imperative and it’s their responsibility to get input from a broad section of the community before going ahead and approving something like that,” Roggeven Byrne said.

At another council meeting this week, Erica presented a petition with more than 100 signatures to the council. She says the council did not open it up for discussion and construction on the statue has been in high gear ever since.

“Italian American groups have made tremendous contributions to the Town of Southington and we would never think of taking that away from them, but understanding that the community is changing and that pieces that we put up on public land need to be reflective of the entire community,” she said.

News 8 reached out to the Knights of Columbus Southington Chapter as well as other groups that support the statue, but we didn’t hear back from any of them. An official unveiling is set for sometime in October.

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