COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The first city in the United States named for Christopher Columbus has removed a statue of the explorer and placed it in storage for safekeeping after it was vandalized several times in a week.
Workers in Columbia, South Carolina, dismembered the statue early Friday, and by mid-morning only the feet were attached to the pedestal at Riverfront Park.
The statue will be stored until citizens, the Columbia City Council and other officials can have a comprehensive discussion about what to do next, Mayor Steve Benjamin said.
The mayor said he didn’t want the fate of the Columbus statue to be decided by protesters destroying it in the middle of the night.
Statues of Columbus, who came to North America in 1492, have been torn down by protesters in other cities who said the explorer started European colonization which exploited and led to the deaths of millions of native people on the continent.
The South Carolina State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution gave the city the statue. Benjamin notified that group and the Order of the Sons of Italy that he was putting the statue in storage.
Columbia was named in 1786 for the female representation of Columbus. It won an 11-7 vote over the name Washington in the South Carolina Senate.
South Carolina has a law protecting historic monuments from being taken down or altered without a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly.