The ‘War against Christopher Columbus’ gets a rebuke from a Philadelphia judge

Darrell Todd Maurina
4 min readDec 19, 2022
Christopher Columbus statue in Philadelphia’s Marconi Plaza

The Commission for Social Justice of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America sent me an announcement last week of the successful fight in court against a decision by the city of Philadelphia to enclose an 1876 statue of Christopher Columbus on Marconi Plaza in a plywood box because the city’s mayor considers the statue offensive. After being told by the court that the city can’t remove the statue, which was donated by the Italian community in Philadelphia to the city nearly a century and a half ago, the city’s response was to build a box to cover it up. Now the judge has said the box needs to go but the statue needs to stay.

Quoting an AP article on this: “In her ruling, Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said that if the city disagrees with the ‘message’ the statue sends, it can add its own plaque with what it wants to convey. ‘More to the point, the City accepted the donation of the Columbus statue in 1876. It has a fiduciary duty to preserve that statue, which it designated an historic object in 2017. The Columbus statue is not City property as is, for example, a City snowblower,’ the judge wrote.”

I don’t always agree with judicial decisions but it sounds like this judge made the right decision. If the city leaders have a problem with the statue, put up a plaque telling their side.

Encouraging other ethnic groups to celebrate their own heritage, including with statues, would also be a great idea. I have absolutely no problem with Native Americans, or any other ethnic group, promoting their own heritage. Native Americans have legitimate grievances and a long history of broken treaties by the United States government. Here in Waynesville, we live on one of the Trail of Tears routes, and while surviving records say the Cherokee caravans moving through Waynesville seem to have been treated well, that wasn’t always the case. Not only was the removal an obvious example of abuse of the Cherokee for no valid reason at all, too many people along the removal route took the opportunity to further abuse the suffering victims of the Cherokee removal.

However, the simple fact is that we have Columbus Day because of an anti-Italian lynching and riot in New Orleans in the late 1800s. Italians were once considered the “lowest of…