New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is defending the preservation of the remaining Christopher Columbus statue in New York City.
During his press briefing on Wednesday, the Democratic governor discussed the vandalism and removal of historic statues amid protests over the death of George Floyd.
While he did acknowledge that he is aware of the conflicting opinions about Christopher Columbus, he insists the 27-foot statue in Columbus Circle “in some way represents the Italian American legacy in this country.”
He added, “I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support. But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation of the Italian-American contribution to New York. For that reason, I support it.”
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#BREAKING: Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it's not time for Christopher Columbus statue to go: "The Christopher Columbus statue in some way represents the Italian American legacy in this country." pic.twitter.com/lUa9Fuwif3
— The Hill (@thehill) June 11, 2020
Cuomo’s statement follows reports about the removal of various historical statues across the country.
While statues honoring the Confederacy have been dominant targets for removal, Christopher Columbus statues have also come under fire due to conflicting accounts and misconceptions about Columbus’ contributions to American History.
Despite the criticism of Columbus’ legacy, this is not the first time Cuomo has defended the world explorer. On multiple occasions, Cuomo has made active efforts to protect the statue.
In 2017, during the Columbus Day festivities in New York, Cuomo made it clear that the statue would remain as long as he governs the state.
“As long as I am governor of the great State of New York, there will be a statue of Christopher Columbus standing tall and proud in the city of New York,” Cuomo said.
He also explained why Columbus Day is a holiday of great importance to him. At the time, Cuomo once again alluded to Columbus, an Italian explorer, as a representation of heritage.
“No one has the right to attack or deny our celebration or our pride of our great heritage,” Cuomo said. “The Italian-American community is not going backward, my friends. The Italian-American community is going forward.”
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