A crane removes the Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago’s Grant Park. (AP)

A crane removes the Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago’s Grant Park. (AP)

A Philadelphia police officer stands near another Christopher Columbus statue. (AP)

A Philadelphia police officer stands near another Christopher Columbus statue. (AP)

City workers help guide the Grant Park statue as it is removed by a crane. (AP)

City workers help guide the Grant Park statue as it is removed by a crane. (AP)

Columbus Comes Down

Posted: September 1, 2020

Protesters gather in the streets of Chicago, Illinois. They’re growing angry. They decide: “Christopher Columbus is coming down!”

This summer, a crowd tried to topple a Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago’s Grant Park. It made for a dangerous situation for protesters and police.

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot worried: People might hurt themselves trying to dismantle the statue. She made a decision. Then she took action. She ordered city workers to remove the statue themselves. Crews used a large crane. They hoisted Mr. Columbus down from his pedestal. A small crowd cheered. Passing cars honked. The workers took down a Columbus statue in another park as well.

Who was Christopher Columbus? You might know the rhyme: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” The Italian explorer stumbled upon North and South America. What a world-changing find!

Still, some people cause trouble when they see a Christopher Columbus statue. Why?

The “New World” was new to Mr. Columbus. But it wasn’t actually new. Native Americans lived there. They had for centuries. Mr. Columbus and other Europeans made the world we know today possible. But they also brought suffering to these native people. Some enslaved Native Americans and claimed their land. Was Mr. Columbus the kind of person today’s Americans should memorialize with a statue? Protesters say: “No!”

 Statues of Mr. Columbus cause an uproar in other U.S. cities too. People damage them or knock them down. Protesters say, “Get these out of here!” But not everyone thinks Mr. Columbus should come down. Some Italian Americans feel proud of their ancestor’s discovery. Some say Mayor Lightfoot is “erasing history.”

Are the Chicago statues gone for good? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Mayor Lightfoot says they have to disappear for now—until people can discuss the problem peacefully.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. — James 3:17