NYC Mayor May Remove Columbus Statue (Photo)

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is reported to be considering the removal of a statue of explorer Christopher Columbus.

De Blasio ordered a review after the events earlier in August in Charlottesville, Virginia. White supremacists protesting the potential removal of a Confederate monument violently clashed with counter-protestors on Aug. 12, resulting in the deaths of one counter-protester and two police officers, Daily Mail reports.

The over 100-year-old statue is currently positioned on a pillar in the middle of a traffic circle in Manhattan. It was given to the city in 1892 as a gift from New York City's Italian community.

"We have to look at everything here," said de Blasio during a debate on Aug. 23.

Democratic City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito added that the city should consider Columbus' controversial history.

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"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," said Mark-Viverito.

The NYPD Columbia Association, which counts thousands of Italian-American police officers among its members, has argued the statue should not be removed.

Republican Nicole Malliotakis, de Blasio's presumptive opponent in the upcoming mayoral election, also argued against removing the statue, CBS reports.

"Even Christopher Columbus, the founder of our nation, is under attack," said Malliotakis, who later said she misspoke by saying Columbus founded the U.S.

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Columbus is a figure with a complicated history. While he is often celebrated in history books for having "discovered" the Americas, he is also controversial for his treatment of Native Americans, capturing some as slaves and exposing natives to deadly diseases, according to Thoughtco.

After the events in Charlottesville, a number of cities across the U.S. have removed or are considering removing monuments to figures in the Confederacy.

The University of Texas at Austin removed statues of two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, along with a statue of Confederate Cabinet member John Reagan. In Brooklyn, New York, two plaques honoring Robert E. Lee were removed, and in the Bronx, the president of Bronx Community College said the school would remove busts of Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Other cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Memphis, have also removed or plan to remove monuments. The statue of Lee that initially sparked the protests in Charlottesville has yet to be removed, The New York Times reports.

Sources: Daily Mail, CBS, Thoughtco, The New York Times / Featured Image: Bill de Blasio/Flickr / Embedded Images: Erik Drost/Flickr, Eli Christman/Flickr

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