The intended movements of the Christopher Columbus statue in Philadelphia seem to represent the journeys that the Italian entrepreneur and explorer made during his lifetime.
Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick ruled Tuesday that the controversial statue can remain at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia, reversing this way a decision by city officials to have it removed, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The judge’s ruling overturned a Sept. 29 decision by the city’s Board of License and Inspection Review that upheld a July 24 decision by the Philadelphia Historical Commission to remove the statue.
The Philadelphia judge argued the decision last year to remove Columbus´ statue was not supported by law and was based on insufficient evidence. “It is baffling to this court as to how the City of Philadelphia wants to remove the Statue without any legal basis. The city’s entire argument and case is devoid of any legal foundation,” Patrick wrote.
The judge added that the city failed to provide an adequate opportunity for public input about the future of the Columbus statue.
Kevin Lessard, spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney, reacted in a statement opening the possibility of an appeal. “While we are very disappointed with the ruling, we’re reviewing it now and exploring all potential options, including a possible appeal. The statue remains in Marconi Plaza and will continue to be secured in its existing box.”
Meanwhile, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, George Bochetto, said they were “ecstatic.” Bochetto said he would ask Patrick to order that a box constructed by the city to cover the statue be removed.
Target of anti-racist activists
Last year, Columbus’s statue became a target for critics who considered it as a historic symbol of racism. This appreciation was fueled by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Members of the Frank L. Rizzo Monument Committee, which raised money to commission the statue, is seeking to have it returned to them. The city placed the statue in storage after removing it in the middle of the night on June 3, 2020.