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.
“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.
“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.