New Britain

New Britain Debates Future of Columbus Statue

Some want the statue removed now but city leaders say it’s something that needs to be thoroughly considered.

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New Britain is the latest community in the state to consider the fate of its Christopher Columbus statue.

From the streets of New Britain to outside City Hall, dozens demanded the Christopher Columbus statue in McCabe Park be immediately taken down Wednesday.

“I truly hope the will of the people is heard,” said Alicia Strong, New Britain Racial Justice Coalition organizer.

 “Here in New Britain being a very diverse town and especially because of a huge Puerto Rican population, Christopher Columbus does not represent our values at all. We must remove him,” said Victor Constanza, New Britain Racial Justice Coalition organizer.

On Wednesday, they and others called into a Common Council meeting where a petition was introduced to consider the statue’s future.

“This is not an erasure of Italian American history. It’s a fight over symbols,” said Chris Anderson, (D) New Britain Alderman.

The statue was dedicated about eight decades ago and stands here at the intersection of Main and North Streets.

Some who called into the meeting believe Columbus represents a divisive history of oppression and slavery.

“This statue is showing them that we condone this racist man,” said Candice Scott.

Others believe Columbus serves as a symbol of the contributions of Italian-Americans to the U.S. and this city is where many Italian immigrants settled, invested and raised their families.

“It means a lot to the Italian people. It means a lot to the Italian community not just in New Britain, out of town,” said Pete Delfino.

Several cities across the state including Hartford and New Haven have already removed their Columbus statues, while the one in Waterbury was recently beheaded.

Now some are concerned New Britain’s review of the issue will take too long and want the statue gone immediately.

“If we can’t get that we’re still going to continue pushing for the removal of the statue by any means that it should be,” said Alicia Strong.

The Plan Commission has now been tasked to look into the issue.

But with its next scheduled meeting months away, those pushing for the removal hope the commission can hold a special meeting to speed up the process.

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