‘A poor fit for a city’: Trenton removes Columbus statue, to change name of park

Crews worked this morning to bring down a controversial statue in Christopher Columbus Park in Trenton, causing a heated debate in the neighborhood, and as the statue leaves – the name of the park will change as well.

News 12 Staff

Jul 8, 2020, 3:14 PM

Updated 1,379 days ago

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Crews worked this morning to bring down a controversial statue in Christopher Columbus Park in Trenton, causing a heated debate in the neighborhood, and as the statue leaves – the name of the park will change as well.
PHOTOS: Protests Across New Jersey
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The statue of Christopher Columbus has stood in the park since the 1950s, but now, the boarded-up pedestal is all that’s left. City workers took it down in a matter of minutes, drawing a crowd as the morning went on. 
"All the things that they depict him as a hero was also read in a history book,” says Jasi Edwards, a lifelong resident of Trenton. “The history of this country has been white washed. Has been swept under a rug."
Edwards, who's Black and Native American, says she's triggered by the statue. Cavalier John Scarpati is the president of the Mercer County Italian American Festival Association, and says the country wouldn't be what it is today without Columbus.
"I don't want to say he's a racist because I don't know and they don't know, OK?” says Scarpati. “They don't know, they only know what somebody told them."
Mayor Reed Gusciora says the statue will placed into storage. The decision follows other moves around New Jersey to remove monuments dedicated to Columbus, and comes just about a month after the statue was vandalized.
In a statement, Mayor Gusciora says, “The current national debate on racial justice has led to a long-overdue examination of how we honor our past, including our statues, monuments, and the names of our parks and schools. Our communities rightfully expect that the individuals we celebrate actually represent the principles of freedom and equality that we all hold dear. We're grateful for the community input we've received on both sides of the issue, but what we know about Columbus simply makes his image a poor fit for a city that is as diverse as Trenton.”
"It hurts me because this has been Columbus Park for 60 years,” says Scarpati. “It's a federal national holiday. You get a few that go up there and convince the city that it should come down, if they covered it for two or three months, it would blow away."
"It's a mix of emotions,” says Edwards. “It's excitement, it's joy, it's liberation, it's frustration, it's sadness, it's just everything that I feel in my heart that this country has stood for for a long time. It's starting to come down and people are starting to know the truth and are fighting for it, so it's a liberating feeling, but also said it's bittersweet."
The name of the park will also be changed, and while the new name hasn’t been announced yet, some park goers suggest freedom or peaceful park.


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