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Where Once Columbus Stood...
July 25, 2020
These First Nation women have acted to claim their own place in history, so long denied, standing on the plinth where once Columbus stood.
Last week, a sign that read "Looter. Rapist. Slave Trader" was placed around the neck of the statue of Columbus in Detroit
The Columbus figure has been a target of vandalism in the city for years. This sign-hanging was one in a series of attacks on depictions of the explorer. Columbus monuments around the country have been targetted and removed in recent weeks; in Boston, a statue was beheaded; in Virginia, another was set on fire and then thrown into a lake. New York authorities have also been requested to remove multiple structures honoring Columbus, including the 70-foot monument at Columbus Circle in New York City.
In Detroit - just as in Bristol for the Colston statue - there have been formal requests for its replacement; in 2017 City Councilwoman, Raquel Castañeda-López, called for the removal of the bust alongside the designation of Indigenous peoples' day. The Indigenous Peoples' Day now exists on the same day as Columbus Day, but the figure remained. Just as in Bristol, these requests for removal fell on deaf ears, but in the current wave of iconoclasm the Detroit mayor has decided the statue ought to be placed in storage to allow the community time to evaluate the appropriate long-term disposition of the statue.
The sign hung around the neck of the statue also included the words which translate as "Tell the truth or someone is telling." and this is the story that is finally being told, worldwide, of revulsion at the historic glorification of men whose wealth was made from oppression and exploitation.