BOSTON (CBS) – The Christopher Columbus statue in Boston's North End will be removed after it was beheaded early Wednesday morning. Mayor Marty Walsh said it will be put in storage and there will now be conversations about the "historic meaning" of the incident and whether it will ever go back up.
The statue in Christopher Columbus Park on Atlantic Avenue was surrounded by crime scene tape as the head lay on the ground next to the base.
Columbus was one of the first Europeans in the New World, credited by many for discovering America. However, critics say his trip began the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Columbus is also criticized for his violent treatment and killing of Native Americans, who see him as a racist.
Now, as police investigate how it happened, local indigenous groups are calling on the mayor to remove the statue for good.
"It's a park dedicated to white supremacy," said Mahtowin Munro of the United American Indians of New England. "It's a park dedicated to indigenous genocide."
There has been a push across the country to get rid of the Columbus Day holiday in October and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day.
This statue has been the target of vandals in the past.
The head was also cut off back in 2006. The statue was doused with red paint in June 2015 with the words "Black Lives Matter" spray-painted on the base.
"We've been asking for years that this statue come down and that Columbus no longer be celebrated," Mahtowin Munro said. "The messaging is clear, with the statue here, that this is an area where white people are welcome but where our people are not welcome."
When asked Wednesday if the statue will be returned to the park, the mayor said, "We're going to have conversations at some point."
"We are going to be taking the statue down this morning and putting it into storage to assess the damage to the statue," Walsh said. "That said, this particular statue has been subject to repeated vandalism here in Boston, and given the conversations that we're certainly having right now in our city of Boston and throughout the country, we're also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of this action."
In Richmond, Virginia Tuesday night, protesters tore down a Columbus statue and threw it into a lake. This comes amid a new push to take down controversial statues across the country and overseas.
"Hopefully it settles down and becomes more peaceful. I thought that it was for a little while but clearly there's a few individuals that have to make a point even further," North End resident Meghan Lee told WBZ-TV. "You can understand people's frustration and being upset and where it's coming from but unfortunately sometimes it gets carried away and things like this happen."
"I don't want to cover up the good, the bad, the part of history that he was, but you don't want to idolize the bad pieces," said resident Jessica Towns.
If you have any information about the Boston incident, please call Boston Police.
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