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Groups Continue to Express Support for Removal of the Christopher Columbus Statue in Syracuse as a Court Case Plays Out

Columbus Statue Court Case
John Smith / WAER News
Members of NOON- Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation and WISH- Women of Italian and Syracuse Heritage gather outside the Onondaga County Courthouse to show their support of Mayor Ben Walsh's decision to remove it and to support the Onondaga Nation.

Organizations and community members who are in favor of removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Syracuse gathered outside the Onondaga County Courthouse on Thursday in advance of a case was to be heard by a judge. A petition was filed in May of 2021 by the Columbus Monument Corporation after Mayor Ben Walsh announced his intensions to have it removed, following public outcry. Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation Organizer Andy Mager says the groups feels there are no moral or legal reasons to keep the statue in place.

 “And contradictory to what the Columbus Monument Corporation has said, Mayor Walsh engaged in a broad public process to seek input from the community.  And the broad community response was that Columbus should go.  That a diverse city like Syracuse with people from all over the world from many backgrounds and ethnicities does not want someone who’s legacy is one of colonial conquest to represent our city.”

Mager adds Columbus - in his words - carried out horror and inflicted cruelty on people after he discovered the Americas. Donna Inglima is a member of WISH - Women of Italian and Syracuse Heritage. She spoke about the atrocities committed by European settlers that have left a local impact.

“…including ethnic cleansing and removal.  Illegal taking of 99 percent of its original land and waters, boarding schools, forced assimilation and a tax on their culture and language.” 

She adds centuries of colonialism has been a historic trauma to the Onondaga Nation that still exists today. A large gathering of local Italian Americans attended a Columbus Day ceremony last fall and say they’re determined to keep the statue in place. Judge Gerard Neri indicated in court today that he will likely reach his decision on the case within a matter of days.