Columbus City Council to vote on removal of Christopher Columbus statue

COLUMBUS, Wis. – During a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, City of Columbus alders scheduled a vote on whether to remove the controversial Christopher Columbus statue during the next council meeting.

The decision comes a few weeks after a Columbus High School student’s petition to remove the statue on Highway 16 gained momentum during a time when similar status are coming under fire nationwide.

“I do not think we should have that statue out there,” Adams said during the public comment portion of the meeting. She said what Christopher Columbus symbolizes shouldn’t represent her city – something other young people speaking at the meeting were behind, as well.

“I hope to live here forever and raise my future children here. With that being said, the City of Columbus does not reflect the ideals and hateful acts Christopher Columbus has committed and represented,” upcoming Columbus High School junior Cora Dahl said. “The city of Columbus is beautiful and kind and welcoming. Why be overshadowed by an old statue with paint chipping and overgrown with weeds and ideals of the past?”

Others at the meeting point to preserving the statue’s history and not judging a man from 500 years ago by today’s standards.

“We are in favor of keeping the statue, because Christopher Columbus is and was a very decent strong pro-Native American person, and he is indeed a hero. We have to be proud of that,” Columbus resident John Waltz said. “If we go ahead and in panic mode strike down everything like what’s happening throughout country, we may be sorry for that later.”

“Give it plenty of time to think about what you’re going to do, do it with a lot of thought and deliberation, which is not happening now,” Jack Sanderson, also a resident, said. “I don’t think allegations are true based on what I know.”

“I would argue that while we don’t necessarily know if he was single-handedly responsible for the atrocities that happened, he definitely did set a precedent for how our country treated millions and millions of Native Americans,” Adams said. “I think having that symbol outside our city, that’s not setting a tone for what our city of Columbus is like.”

While a few community members at the meeting expressed wanting more time or even a citywide referendum in making the decision, city alders decided to schedule a vote on the statue’s removal at the July 7 council meeting, in part to prevent the statue from being taken down illegally. Mayor Michael Thom said he is aware of threats made to the statue.

If the council votes to remove the statue, alders will then discuss options for its future.