'You're all embarrassments to America': Shouting erupts over removal of Christopher Columbus statue in St. Louis

As the statue in Tower Grove Park was taken down, a crowd started to gather and yelling began.

Sam Masterson
June 16, 2020 - 8:31 am
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ST. LOUIS (KFTK) - The Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park is gone. It stood at the entrance of the St. Louis park for 140 years.

Construction crews were at the site of the statue Tuesday morning after the park board gave the O.K. to remove the statue. There was also a small crowd of people at the park, who began shouting at each other after the statue had been taken away. 

Related: New push to remove Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park

There was no violence and people kept their distance from each other, but there were some strong emotions on display as some began to chant "bring him down" in support of the statue being removed.

Another man who was against it, called the people chanting "embarrassments to America" and when another man claimed that he was Italian the other man shouted back, "I don't give a **** if you're Italian or not, leave the man's statue where it was." 

Related: New push to remove Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park

In a statement, the park says the statue "symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities. Tower Grove Park celebrates the diversity of our community every day and serves as the centerpiece of the region’s most vibrant neighborhoods."

It's unclear what will happen to the statue. No one from the park was available for comment to our partner station, KMOX.

A statement was released by the park: 

"Tower Grove Park celebrates the diversity of our community every day and serves as the centerpiece of the region’s most vibrant neighborhoods. When a statue of Christopher Columbus was placed in the park 140 years ago, its purpose was to celebrate the contributions of immigrants in this region. But now, for many, it symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities.

"In order to ensure a safe, inclusive and pleasant environment for park visitors and team members alike, the Park’s Board of Commissioners has authorized the removal of the Columbus statue to begin the week of June 15. By taking this action, Tower Grove Park reaffirms its commitment to being a place of welcome, and to caring for the people’s park in the best way possible. "

On June 11, a new petition on Change.org was started in favor of having the statue removed due because "Christopher Columbus was not a hero or great explorer. He was a war criminal who raped, tortured, pillaged, and murdered the people indigenous to the land he stole."

It had more than 2,400 signatures, as of Monday afternoon, to remove the statue near Grand Avenue by the entrance of the park.

Last September, a park commission was set up to rule on the future of the statue in the St. Louis park. It allowed the statue to stay and said signs with more historical information about Columbus, along with the history of the park, would be added. The commission was made up of three Native American representatives, two Italian-American representatives, and people from the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, the National Park Service, Black Lives Matter, and the "activist community."

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