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Columbus statue vandalized in North End park is put in storage for the time being

A worker looks over the pedestal after removing the statue of Christopher Columbus in Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in the North End.
A worker looks over the pedestal after removing the statue of Christopher Columbus in Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in the North End.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

The Christopher Columbus statue found beheaded early Wednesday in a North End waterfront park has been removed.

Crews hired by the city took the statue down about 6 a.m. Thursday and hauled it away, leaving just the pedestal in place.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday that the statue would be placed in storage.

"We don’t condone vandalism, and it needs to stop,” Walsh said. However, he added, "given the conversations that we’re having right now in our city and throughout the country, we’re also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of the statue.”

A city official said the statue will be in storage temporarily while the damage is assessed.

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The 6-foot Carrara marble statue of Columbus, who was hailed for centuries for discovering the New World for Europeans but later vilified for the genocide of indigenous people, was beheaded sometime before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, when a passerby alerted police.

Boston police are investigating. Part of the head was recovered at the scene, the authorities said.

The statue is not without supporters: A rally is scheduled for Sunday to call for bringing it back.

The rally, announced by the Italian American Alliance, is set to take place at 2 p.m. at Christopher Columbus Park.

“Leaders of prominent Italian American organizations wasted no time to react via teleconference Wednesday evening to plan appropriate action following the cowardly vandalism and subsequent removal of the Christopher Columbus statue that graced the North End’s Columbus Park,” officials with the Italian American Alliance said in a statement.

North End resident Daniel Heffernan takes a picture of the statue of Christopher Columbus after it was removed from its pedestal at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.
North End resident Daniel Heffernan takes a picture of the statue of Christopher Columbus after it was removed from its pedestal at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, whose district includes the North End and its many Italian-American residents, condemned the destruction.

“Vandalism doesn’t help the conversation move forward," she said. “The statue and story of Columbus may be controversial, but defacing property is not the answer.”

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“We need to acknowledge that certain symbols can cause pain. We need to honor Italian heritage,” Edwards said. “It’s a conversation I think we should have, and it should be led by Italian-American families, residents of the North End, and our indigenous brothers and sisters.”

The statue, which is owned by the Boston Parks Department and stands on a 5-foot pedestal, has been targeted several times since it was erected in 1979. Its granite base will remain at the park while a decision is made on the piece’s future.

In 2004, the statue was splashed with red paint, with the word “murderer” spray-painted on the base. Two years later, it was decapitated; the head was found six days later on Sheaf Street in the neighborhood.

In 2015, the words “Black Lives Matter” were spray-painted on the structure and red paint was dumped on the head.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.