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Norwalk’s Columbus statue removed

Images from a video shot Thursday evening by 5iveFingaz and posted on his Facebook page.

NORWALK, Conn. — Workers have removed Norwalk’s Christopher Columbus statue, which until Thursday evening was stationed on West Avenue.

“The Columbus Memorial Fund (the organization that donated the statue) and the granddaughter of one of the people who built the statue both contacted the city and asked for assistance removing it,” Norwalk Chief of Staff Laoise King said in a email sent just after midnight. “Both were concerned that the statue could be damaged or vandalized in its current location The Mayor agreed the request made sense and arranged for DPW to help remove it from heritage park earlier this evening.”

The Norwalk artist calling himself 5iveFingaz announced this event on Facebook, posting a half-hour long video of workers removing Columbus from Heritage Park as Norwalk Police officers watched, blue and red lights flashing on their nearby cruisers.

A “Columbus Statue protest” had been planned for Saturday, at Heritage Park. This made City Hall “nervous,” 5iveFingaz said.

Nationwide, there have been three reports of Christopher Columbus statues being tampered with — one thrown into a lake, one beheaded, and another pulled to the ground, CNN said. It’s part of the response to the death in police custody of African American George Floyd, which has sparked protests in the United States and internationally against police brutality and racial inequality

Connecticut Youth Activists requested the removal of the statue, in an online petition that had 313 signatures at midnight. The activists suggest that the statue be replaced with a monument dedicated to the Wappinger and “Lanope” people.

The former location of the Christopher Columbus statue, in Heritage Park, on Friday.

“We believe it is high time that the City of Norwalk is more inclusive of the original inhabitants of Norwalk Lenape and Wappinger, who were nearly annihilated through genocide,” the petition states. “What this statue represents to our community as well as many other colonial monuments is violence, racism, marginalization, and the continued denial of the genocide of indigenous people.”

It’s a past “we still struggle with because we are reminded of it daily with the honoring of Christopher Columbus at Heritage Wall. Columbus killed millions of indigenous people through slavery and policies of systematic extermination. Under his rule his men hanged indigenous people in mass, roasted them at the stake, hacked children to be used as dog food…Columbus is the architect of a genocide that is comparable to Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’.”

Connecticut Youth Activists has also posted a petition calling for Columbus Magnet School to be renamed. That one had 109 signatures at midnight.

Columbus statues are being removed in many cities, including New Haven. Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) celebrated this on Facebook with the words:

“Popular power
“And now that we are together
“And now that they see us
“Down with colonization, racism and Christopher Columbus, it’s going down, it’s going down…
and up the indigenous and migrant peoples that will beat!”

 

Unidad Latina En Acción Norwalk is also calling to have the school’s name changed.

5iveFingaz created a Native American statue in 2018 and posted it West Avenue near the Columbus statue. It was swiftly removed and later installed beside the Norwalk History Museum.

“I spoke to a few officials and city employees and I was told if the funds could be raised I could curate a Norwalk Indian to be officially erected at a location in Norwalk. I never heard back,” he wrote Thursday night.

The 5iveFingaz Art Facebook post drew many comments, including these:

  • You can’t erase history by removing a statue. Why do y’all keep saying that we are erasing history? All the people he robbed, murdered and raped are gone. That will never be undone. That is permanent but what we can do is remove anything that celebrates that piece of scum.”
  • I remember when this statue went up, when this park was erected. It’s a very strange feeling watching it come down.”
  • we might as well Stop teaching all history and looking and appreciating anyone in the past. Whatever you people say, this man sailed uncharted waters and risked his life for new land which is all of your homes like it or not. You live on the land he discovered. What have you people done to risk your lives for the sake of others?”
  • Its about time we already stopped acknowledging the holiday, this was bound to happen. Anybody mad at this being taken down really needs to ask themselves why they are upset. That man and his followers subjected 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of people to some of the worst acts of cruelty. Paedophilia, rape, genocide, etc. What good does that do for anybody to be reminded of his accomplishments. How can we progress if we still glorify people like him. If you worried about the world forgetting him, we won’t. He’s etched into history books. Kyle G. Malkin If anything I’ll say a prayer for you and your ignorance. Your mad that a statue that glorifies a murderous tyrant is being taken down LOL. You sir need God if that bothers you goodnight and P.S. we don’t gather and sing around flowers we work towards a fair future for all of us and sing Hallelujah”
  • Do all historical figures have some fault that disqualifies them from having a statue?”
  • Italian people have a long an prestigious history. this ain’t it”
  • “Good riddance, like my favorite sign from the New Haven demonstration said “the most dangerous immigrants arrived in 1492” Time’s up we are NOT to be ignored.”

Story copy edited at 1 a.m. Saturday.

A Norwalk Police cruiser sits near the Columbus statue in Heritage Park, Sunday on West Avenue.

31 comments

Jonathan Cohen June 26, 2020 at 7:09 am

What a sad day for our town. Slavery was a feature of the world’s condition when Columbus sailed for America. Slavery died here, in the United States that eventually grew from the Columbian discovery and encounter, after a bloody civil war and the reformation of our laws via amendments to the Consitution, our most basic law. America represents the best human impulses and ideas — innovation, exploration,equal rights for all citizens, freedom and liberty for each individual to achieve the best he can through striving — triumphing over or worst. Our experiment started with Columbus, warts and all. Despite his personal flaws or those of the inquisition culture he represented, to erase this history is to stab at the heart of the nation and wish it to die. At least the statue was removed peacefully. Still, it was done without much or any public explanation. That much is owed to us by Mayor Rilling.

David Muccigrosso June 26, 2020 at 8:21 am

#NotMyItalianAmericanHero

You know who is, though? Phillip Mazzei. He was the Italian-American who actually drafted the words “All men are created equal…” which Jefferson borrowed from him for the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson gave him a plot at Monticello, where he refused to use slave labor and instead imported Italian vintners to create a wine that is still produced today.

Columbus can sod off, for all I care.

Bryan Meek June 26, 2020 at 8:52 am

Meanwhile the city’s playgrounds remain closed while Darien’s are open. Because the science of this bug somehow prevents it from traveling past West Norwalk road. What else can we waste more city resources on while the rest of us get to enjoy fewer services that we pay for?

John ONeill June 26, 2020 at 9:22 am

What I find most amusing about this local movement to recognize the Wappingers and Lenape pepole? Most petition signers think Lenape is a fish sandwich.
Our teachers are failing if our children are this ignorant.

Sam Tyler June 26, 2020 at 9:54 am

This is a sign of rewriting history. Removing Washington, Jefferson, Columbus, etc. is a repeat of Nazi Germany and Russia under Stalin.
It is true that these people did negative things, but also are part of our history. Some good comes with the bad. We cannot deny that. Children should be taught the good and bad things so as history does not repeat itself.
Soon we will have no history, but that of the vocal people who want to whitewash everything.
In the 90s I spent some time in Germany. In meeting several German business associates, I learned that they learn little about Hitler and his persecution of the Jewish people. Should they not understand what happened so that it is not repeated.

Peter Franz June 26, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Good for Norwalk.

This is not rewriting history. It’s learning from history, and realizing mistakes, and not honoring horrible men. It’s no longer accepting white-washed history.

John O'Neill June 26, 2020 at 12:40 pm

@Jonathan Cohen : That’s the most intelligent comment I’ve heard this month. Thank you for that.
@David – My vote is with Jonathan’s — I’m guessing if we dug back into the Mazzei family we’d dig up some dirt. I believe his ancestors ended up in Virginia. I wonder who they sided with during the Civil War? ..That being said I grew up in Queens down the street from the Mazzei family. Their only fault was they were huge Yankee fans. I still shake my head today as they idolized Joe Pepitone in that household.

Curious June 26, 2020 at 2:22 pm

Mayor Rilling why do you allow this nonsense?

Please stop acting in a unilateral fashion and pandering to the misguided rage of an easily misdirected generation. When they come back next it will be for more than a statue. Your actions put us all on a slippery slope.

To the youthful protesters I would say this – to blame Columbus for the horrors noted above lacks critical thinking. Wasn’t this Hitler’s claim – blame the Jews that rallied a nation to global war and genocide. Now we have ‘blame the police’ which seems to be morphing into blame the ‘historical white figures’. What’s next ‘blame all white people’?

Where is your outrage for the 102 people shot in Chicago this past weekend? This is the highest figure on record and largely a product of the police pulling back. Is this what you want? Think.

I get your passion, I get your rage. But understand this, our leadership on the local, state and national level have created an opaque system where the elites rule and dole out favors to a select few, all the while the rest of us are told to shut up and pay our taxes as our rights are incrementally removed.

Your rage should not be targeted at the police, or at other races as the media is stoking, those are symptoms of a larger problem. This rage should be focused at a welfare system that has systematically destroyed the black family and led to the sorry state of affairs’ within today’s inner city black communities. Focus your rage on those who controls, perpetuates and profits from this welfare system that is rife with systemic abuse. Their biggest fear is losing an election. Don’t remove a statue, vote these self-serving individuals out of office at all levels.

Be careful who you listen to. Find thoughtful leaders who are standing up for the people, not self, corporate or government interests. God gave you common sense so use it.

Here is a great example. Listen to what the likes of Candace Owens or Larry Elder are saying and compare that with what we are hearing from the mainstream media’s darlings on all things black like Al Sharpton. It won’t be as sexy as burning neighborhoods and getting on the nightly news. But it will help you see the world for the way it is and with that knowledge you have lasting power. Not the temporary power they are giving you as an appeasement.

Steve Mann June 26, 2020 at 4:45 pm

History is history. It can not unhappen. So while we can learn from history, to erase it is to create a sham. How will generations to come understand where we are if they don’t know where we came from. While this movement to completely dismantle our heritage feels good to the liberal mind, many of us can learn from the past without having to prostate ourselves to the point of self-flagellation.

April 27 is Freedom Day in South Africa. They take that day to celebrate the first democratic elections post-apartheid. They don’t refuse to acknowledge it happened. This is ridiculous. Political correctness run absolutely amok.

Tysen Canevari June 26, 2020 at 5:11 pm

It is a sign of the times. Taking down a statue does nothing. Kudos for doing at night so the people getting the extra $600 a week unemployment cant form a protest and block i-95. Maybe we should take down all the war memorials as well because our soldiers may have killed people in the war. Rumor has it that St Anns club is going to be the new home for the Columbus statue. Only in Norwalk!

CT-Patriot June 26, 2020 at 8:24 pm

Youth activists? Really? A statue is removed because of Youth activists?

Rilling…you got rolled by a bunch of punks who think “Googling” “history of Columbus is fact. Where are they basing their facts from?

What next? Auschwitz? Buchenwald ? Sobibor? Is s youth group going to demand those be bulldozed?

All of a sudden…statues are offensive? NOW?

No public vote on removing or not, just take it down?

So now, statues trigger liberals.

I’m waiting for statues of FDR to be removed. Renaming anything FDR. After all, he put Japanese Americans in camps, took their property and also turned away a ship (St Louis) containing Jews fleeing Gemany. Most were put in concentration camps and killed.

But worry about some explorer long ago..unbelievable!

Art June 26, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Yes! 69 year old Irish/Italian war veteran here and I’m glad I fought for these young people to voice their opinions. I do not cherish Columbus as many others do. He was a rapist and evil man. Times are changing and it’s time for change!

Al Bore June 26, 2020 at 9:23 pm

I would not expect anything different from this administration. What a shame for Norwalk, now go build more apartment buildings that’s all this mayor knows how to do.

MarjorieM June 26, 2020 at 11:27 pm

Did the Germans take down the concentration camps? No. They turned them into a museum, a tourist attraction to remind people of the horrors of that time. The lesson…NEVER AGAIN. These statues, like Columbus, should be housed in a museum where an explanation of who they were and what their place in history was, the good and the bad. Don’t erase history. Learn from it.

Truth will set us free June 27, 2020 at 11:44 am

I find it very interesting that many people seem to think that taking down statues is erasing history when we have history books and holidays controlling the narrative and brainwashing generations of people. Columbus Day is still being celebrated and history books with Columbus discovering lands already inhabited by natives which were depicted as savages. Indigenous peoples are some how always characterized as savages. Wake up America. Be comfortable with change and losing control of a very one sided narrative. Columbus was not a hero. Thanksgiving is also a sham. Watch shows like Modern Greed and Dirty Money to see Modern colonialism at it’s best.

Norwalk parent June 27, 2020 at 12:08 pm

We better never see an Obama statue anywhere.
Obama disowned his brother, who lives in Africa.
Also, he promised the USA “Hope” and “Faith” but failed to deliver.
I am offended by Obama’s actions.
See…anyone can play this game.

Concerned June 27, 2020 at 1:09 pm

This is how the communists take over, first they erase your culture and history and replace it with their version of it. Disgusting.

John ONeill June 27, 2020 at 1:34 pm

@John – Kind of like the history Comrades Lenin and Stalin made. How long did it take Lenin to control media? While we are at it, let’s give a shout out to Comrade Castro. He taught Cubans to read well enough, but controlled what they read..That worked out well. How about Comrade Ortega. Things are going well in Nicaragua, unless of course if you happen to be hungry or posted on the Nicaraguan division of Nancy on Norwalk. Then maybe not so good. Yes, the US has its warts, but I dare anyone to come up with a better place to live.
My ancestors practically starved to death. Does that mean it’s OK for me to tear down every statue in England, while squatting in Buckingham Palace? I’m better than that. Thank God!! After viewing the recent two months of destruction, I thought the Internet was supposed to make people smarter. That my friend has proven to be a poor assumption..The phrase “stupid is as stupid does” comes to mind…I don’t know why…

Joe June 27, 2020 at 1:37 pm

I think it would be appropriate for one of our esteemed NHS educators to prove the case that Christopher Columbus was a despicable immoral a-hole.

What exactly have our teachers been feeding our kids?

I do know that Christopher Columbus was not only a daringly brave entrepreneur who successfully crossed a vast unknown ocean in three small sailing vessels and also had the chutzpah to convince a foreign queen to flip the bill…
that alone is an admirable American-style story of capital, investment and reward.

I also know that his voyage opened the doors of hope to countless people who were looking for escape to a new world that would offer them freedom from Inquisition, freedom of religion, freedom from the shackles of a dead end economic caste system and freedom from the servitude of unjust laws of kings and aristocracy.

That, we know, did happen.

Where’s the proof that Christopher Columbus was a racist nazi kind of guy?

I heard there was some unearthed 500 year-old document which could have been written
by a disgruntled partner or girl friend. Who knows.

Come on NHS history teachers. Show us the proof that Christopher Columbus was a worthless evil pig.

Show us what you’ve been teaching to our kids for the last 20 years.

Paul Cantor June 27, 2020 at 3:35 pm

The statues of individuals that belong in our public parks should be statues of individuals we can look up to both literally and figuratively because they embody values we share. Did Christopher Columbus, a man who enslaved and killed many native Americans as he searched for gold share those values? Here is what Sean Wilentz, a Princeton historian, wrote in today’s (June 27th) Wall Street Journal regarding what statues belong in our shared spaces:

“At one extreme stands President Trump, who has proclaimed himself a champion of the disgraced Confederate symbols and lashed out at all who would remove them as unhinged leftists out to ‘desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.’ To Mr. Trump, who has weaponized the Lost Cause mystique for his own purposes, an attack on Confederate symbols is no different from an attack on America itself. His ignorant rendering of history exalts the defenders of slavery who fired on the Stars and Stripes to instigate the country’s bloodiest war. He equates their treason with American valor…The revolution in historical memory that we are experiencing today will remain incomplete unless we can build something new upon what has been undone. We might start by creating new monuments to the hundreds of men, women and children who devoted and often sacrificed their lives to the cause of racial equality.”

It is long past time for all of us regardless of our views to stand up and say: “Mr. President your actions and rhetoric emboldens racists and no one who emboldens racists is fit to be the leader of a country founded on enlightenment values. Just how far back do you think we have to go to MAGA?”

Jovan Fernandez June 27, 2020 at 7:32 pm

@Joe- wow you really don’t know your history. It’s literally backed by scholars he had indigenous sex slaves as young as 9 years old, Columbus was a horrible governor, never did anything for Italians, and died a prisoner for his malicious acts. Literally google it.

@EVERYONE- As you can see there are Italians who don’t care about this because that’s not their hero or who they care about. Columbus didn’t do anything for Italian people. NOTHING. Especially for Italian Americans.

This is not erasing history. A statue is going down. We have books, the internet, etc. We don’t need statues. No one is offended. It just took us some decades to realize how messed up our educational system is to realize having a statue of a horrible person is not that great of an idea. What has Columbus done for Norwalk?

I’m Colombian if anything I should be upset since my country literally made his last name our identity. But guess what? I’m not.

Honor people who actually did something for this country if you’re gonna make them a statue. I can’t believe people are so uptight about it. What did this statue ever to do for you? Did it kiss you good night? Give you good luck every time you pass by it?

Stop trying to defend a Columbus. You don’t know him. He doesn’t know you. He’s never done anything for you. Just a greedy malicious person who walked the earth. Brilliant as a sailor, horrible as a human being. Do your research, know your history. This is making history and reshaping it / redefining it and telling that a Columbus wasn’t a good person. Not erasing it fully. Stop thinking Liberals are softies they’re the ones who actually like tough convos and the harsh truth while others are too scared to talk about race and the harsh truths of history.

Tysen Canevari June 27, 2020 at 9:33 pm

Where were all the people last year calling for the statue to be removed? Jump on the wagon people. 15 minutes of fame almost over. Find something more meaningful to do. How bout the homeless on the street?

CT-Patriot June 28, 2020 at 5:35 am

So, let’s see…

Committee formed to honor Columbus.

City donates land/location

Artist performs the work.

Dedication and reveal of statue.

Fast forward to the year 2020

Woke liberals see “grey statue bad” and want it removed.

So tell me, why now? Why all of a sudden a statue is offensive, but its been there for years? What triggered you? It was approved and I don’t see any article back then in opposition.

So what was it? Someone whispered something in a Twitter feed? Was it the current Marxism on display elsewhere?

Don’t give me this bleeding heart virtue signaling about your “discovery” of what may have been.

No one is forcing people to look at it.

What next? Books?

What about land you may be standing on where some point in history, something bad happened and your house is on it. Shall we rip it down too? I’m offended by the land and your house is offensive to me and others, it must come down.

Just keep destroying what you perceive offensive and soon, there will be nothing left.

Funny how so many people are authorities on Columbus all from Google..yeah base tor facts on “I read it on the internet”. Bravo!

Clark Charles June 28, 2020 at 6:33 am

How disgraceful that Norwalk would take down the Columbus Day Memorial Statue. By doing this you give the protesters a green light to do anything they want. America is becoming a socialist power, a third world country, a country without God, without values, without morals. If you look back on history Adolf Hitler took power in Germany in a very similar way. Little by little he took away people’s rights, he burned books and history, created a society of violence and hatred with the brown shirts and Gestapo, created racism and genocide againt the Jews, slaughtered millions of people and nearly conquered Europe and the World. Without God America will not stand as a Nation. I urge all good citizens of Norwalk and America to stand up for what is right, and protect our history. If we don’t our children will have nothing in the future.

BOB GIOLITTO June 28, 2020 at 7:14 am

Interesting that some call the genocide that Columbus and the government that funded him “warts.” Hitler and his cohorts exterminated six million Jews–is that a wart? German children are taught about Hitler and Nazism and the horrors they perpetrated. US children should be taught about Columbus; no one is saying they shouldn’t. But has Germany erected statues glorifying Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, and the rest?

Peter Franz June 28, 2020 at 9:31 am

@Jovan Fernandez, great points all around. I shouldn’t really need to add more, but one minor little tidbit is Columbus never set foot on North American soil. Which is comical in the context of people screaming about “honoring history”. Yeah we are honoring history by correcting it.

John ONeill June 28, 2020 at 1:19 pm

@Bob – Maybe spend a week on the history of World Slavery. Based on your grading system there’s a religion out there with over a billion people that you’re unhappy with. Your post did make think though. There should be a class on the ENTIRE world slavery issue, not just American history. Again, I don’t condone the abnormalition of slavery, BUT today’s politically correct torchbearers seem to be picking and choosing facts that fit their miopic view of world history.That is wrong.

CT-Patriot June 28, 2020 at 7:37 pm

@Bob G:

No Germany has not erected Hitler statues.

But, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Sobibor etc still stand as a warning.

Odd, we have statues and buildings even roads named after FDR. The very same AMERICAN PRESIDENT who rounded up Japanese Americans, Japanese origin, confiscated all of their property and businesses then put them in camps.

The very same President did not authorize the St Louis ship to dock in the US after failing to dock in Cuba. That very same ship containing Jews fleeing Germany was turned away, sent back and majority suffered in concentration camps and killed.

When will all statues, buildings, roads with the FDR association be torn down?

Too many hypocrites in society today. That is fact!

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