NEWARK, NJ – Overnight Thursday and into the morning on Friday, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had city workers remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from the city’s Washington Park.
“In keeping with the movement to remove symbols of oppression and white supremacy, we have decided to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Washington Park. We took it down with City work crews in a safe and orderly manner, to avoid the potential danger of people taking it upon themselves to topple it,” Mayor Baraka said. “The removal of this statue should not be perceived as an insult to the Italian-American community. It is a statement against the barbarism, enslavement, and oppression that this explorer represents.”
The statue and memorial were erected in 1927.
The statue was the brainchild of Italian-American John Dibiase, who was a member of the Giuseppe Verdi Society. The statue was a gift to the city, paid for by the residents of the city’s Little Italy/Nevarca neighborhood. It was unveiled on Columbus Day in front of nearly 50,000 residents.
A message on the statue’s base reads, “To Christopher Columbus, Immortal Genoese. Erected by the Italians in this land perceived through his genius in the year 1492.”