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New London mayor moves Columbus statue for safe keeping before city holds meeting on its permanent removal

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– The Christopher Columbus statue, which became a point of contention in New London, is now in a warehouse for safe keeping. 

It was at 5 a.m. Sunday morning that the statue which stood in downtown New London for more than 90 years was carefully taken down.

“I made an executive decision to remove the statue because it had just become a lighting rod for civil discontent,” said Mayor Michael Passero, (D) New London.

RELATED: Christopher Columbus statue temporarily removed in Middletown, mayor says it hasn’t been vandalized

The statue of Christopher Columbus was first vandalized during a Black Lives Matter rally a week ago and then a few times after that.

“I wanted to protect it,” said the mayor.

The statue was given to the city in 1928 as a gift from Italian immigrants to thank New London for making them feel welcome. In more recent years it was learned how Columbus enslaved indigenous people during his travels to the new world.

“I think it’s the right thing,” said New London resident Dawn Strickland. “I just feel bad for the Italians for the purpose why the statue was given to the city in the first place.”

RELATED: Statues of Christopher Columbus vandalized in New London, New Haven, calls for removal

City councilor Curtis K. Goodwin does not believe the statue should be placed on public property.

“Stone shouldn’t be the reason why millions of people of color are offended everyday as they walk by watching a man being idolized,” said Goodwin.

The city council is holding a special meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. specifically to discuss the statue and the council could vote on whether or not to permanently remove it.

Goodwin believes that during tonight’s regularly scheduled city council meeting a lot of people will be weighing in on this situation during that public comment period as well.

“There are people that want this statue reestablished in another neighborhood in the city,” said Mayor Passero. “That will probably come up in the discussions.”

The mayor says descendants of those who gifted the statue to the city support his decision to move it but are disappointed it had to be moved.

“I do think there’s a place in history for it,” said Goodwin. “I personally would love to see it at the Lyman Allyn Museum.”

Columbus Square and Columbus Corner are named for what was once cemented in this city’s history.

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