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Controversial Christopher Columbus Statue Removed From San Jose City Hall

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – The controversial Christopher Columbus located inside San Jose's City Hall building was removed and placed into a hall of the Italian American Heritage Foundation on Saturday, according to the City Hall building manager.

At the City Council meeting on Jan. 30, Mayor Sam Liccardo and the City Council decided on a six-week deadline to remove the 9-foot-tall statue and find a new location.

The topic was discussed after Councilmember Raul Peralez recommended in a September 2017 memo that the statue be moved to "a more appropriate location, with input from the community" since it had become the subject of several security issues beginning in 2001.

As recently as Oct. 12, a handful of protesters entered City Hall and confronted visitors and city staff with their opposition to the statue.  Security staff and police worked to disperse the protesters.

Four options were considered by councilmembers for relocation: storing the statue at the History San Jose Collection Center on city-owned land until it could be later donated to an accepted recipient, moving it to Terminal A of the Mineta San Jose International Airport, moving it to the Bank of Italy in Kelley Park and lastly keeping it in the current location.

Building manager Walter Lin said that the Council would accept a private location for the statue's relocation and that the Italian American Heritage Foundation expressed great interest in having the statue in their hall.

In accordance with this authorization, the statue was moved just days before the deadline, which would be this Tuesday, Lin said.

The statue's breakdown, transportation and reassembly took approximately six hours in total, beginning when a fine arts moving company arrived at City Hall around 9:30 a.m. and ending when the statue was restored just after 3:10 p.m., according to Lin.

The statue itself is comprised of three pieces that weigh nearly 3,000 pounds in full, so lots of equipment was brought into City Hall to move the fragile figure, Lin said.

The 6-foot reconstruction of Columbus, the flat bottom and a cylinder-shaped base were all placed in special traveling crates and strapped inside a moving truck. Lin said the locations are less than a mile away from each other, but the driver drove extremely slowly to ensure nothing happened.

The Italian American Heritage Foundation plans to build a protective enclosure to deter the public from having the ability to deface the statue, which happened multiple times at its City Hall location, Lin said. The city will not be a part of the building of the enclosure.

In total, the process cost the city around $10,000, according to Lin.

At this time, there are a simple table and chairs where the statue once sat, but the city is looking into rotating public displays about each city department to provide more information about what they do to constituents, according to Lin.

The building manager also said that organizations often ask to display art in City Hall, so this may open up a space to do that as well.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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