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Providence pulls Columbus statue

Future of controversial monument will be determined by a special committee

The boarded up statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence, with paint splattered on wood.
The boarded up statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence, with paint splattered on wood.Edward Fitzpatrick/The Boston Globe

PROVIDENCE – The controversial Christopher Columbus statue in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood is being placed in storage until city leaders figure out whether to move it to a new location or permanently remove it from public property.

Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Thursday that a Special Committee for Commemorative Works will meet to discuss the future of the statue, which has regularly been vandalized over the years because historians believe Columbus was responsible for enslaving and killing indigenous people.

Earlier this month, the statue was boarded up so that activists wouldn’t damage it, but three people were charged with attempting to vandalize it. Earlier this week, law enforcement were required to guard the box because of a social media rumor that people were going to attempt to destroy the statue.

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“We want our community’s voice centered in the decisions made around the memorials, historical markers and monuments that represent our city,” Elorza said in a prepared statement.

The committee will make recommendations to the city’s Board of Parks Commissioners on whether the statue should be moved to a new location.

Elorza’s decision to remove the statue will undoubtedly lead to a new round of criticism from those who argue it honors people of Italian heritage, but several City Council members quickly posted to Twitter that they supported the mayor.

“The community has been loud and clear on this one- Columbus cannot continue to be celebrated,” Councilwoman Kat Kerwin tweeted.


Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.