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Cuomo Says New York City's Columbus Statue Should Stay

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that he did not believe New York City's prominent statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed and pointed out its importance in the Italian American community.

Cuomo was asked on Thursday at a press conference whether it was time for the statue, which stands above the city's Columbus Circle subway stop, to go.

"I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support," said Cuomo, who is of Italian descent. "But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York. For that reason, I support it."

Discussions about the removal of statues dedicated to the Italian explorer once credited with discovering the Americas have proliferated across the country at the same time that some other controversial monuments — Confederate figures — have been removed. A statue of Columbus was pulled down and tossed into a lake in Richmond, Va., and one was beheaded in Boston. Activists also toppled one of the statues in Minneapolis, according to Minnesota Public Radio. One was defaced in Miami, member station WLRN reports.

Honors for Columbus and other European explorers have been reconsidered in light of the harm they did to Native people. Several states and cities replaced Columbus Day, which is still a federal holiday, with Indigenous Peoples Day.

The statue in question stands at the southwest corner of Central Park in the center of a plaza.

New York City has a prominent Italian American community. The city holds a big celebration of Columbus Day with a parade largely held to applaud the contributions of Italian Americans. It's also home to the famous Little Italy neighborhood, as well as an Italian American museum.

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Austin Horn is a 2019-2020 Kroc Fellow. He joined NPR after internships at the San Antonio Express-News and Frankfort State-Journal, as well as a couple stints in the service industry. He aims to keep his reporting grounded in the experience of real individuals of all stripes.
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