NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio may take down Christopher Columbus statue

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a file photo from May 7, 2015.

AP

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio may order the removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus in Manhattan's Columbus Circle.

The statue, which is over 100 years old, is one of the city artifacts currently under review in an effort to remove "symbols of hate." De Blasio, a Democrat who is running for re-election this November, ordered the review after the violent confrontations between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Virginia earlier this month.

De Blasio said the statue would be subject to the review. "We have to look at everything here," de Blasio said during Wednesday night's Democratic mayor debate.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, an ally of de Blasio and fellow Democrat, has called for the statue of Columbus to come down.

"I will wait for the commission, as I said Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure to many of us particularly in the Caribbean and I think that that has to be looked at, when you have to look at history we have to look at it thoroughly and clearly," she said on Monday.

The Italian-born Columbus was one of the first Europeans to reach the Americas, and his expeditions initiated the first lasting trans-Atlantic contacts. Critics note his cruel treatment of native peoples and his active participation in the slave trade.

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Christopher Columbus statue, Columbus Circle, New York City. 

Wikimedia Commons

The statue was given to the City by a group of Italian Americans in 1892. The NYPD Columbia Association, which includes thousands of Italian American police officers, is one of the groups fighting to keep the statue on public grounds.

De Blasio's presumptive Republican opponent in the mayoral contest also says the statue should stay put. "Even Christopher Columbus, the founder of our nation, is under attack," state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said Wednesday.

She later clarified that she misspoke in calling Columbus the founder of the U.S.