UPDATE: June 15, 9 p.m.
Metal barricades now surround the statue. There are some signs posted as well, reading “Leave Columbus Alone” and “Stop Trying to Erase Western Civilization! Teach All of History."
Police have been keeping an eye on things after an incident over the weekend. There were arguments between a large group of people, some armed, who guarding the statue, and a group of people who want the statue out of there. At some point the arguments became physical.
Over the past couple of weeks, the civil unrest in Philadelphia and around the world has led to controversial landmarks coming down, including the Frank Rizzo statue in Center City and his mural in the Italian Market.
For South Philadelphia resident John Fosco, who lives in South Philly, enough is enough.
"They're trying to erase our heritage," he charged. "They are doing the same thing Columbus did. Columbus went in and took away the Native Americans' heritage."
Lloyd Pratt was also part of the group tasking themselves with protecting the statue.
"I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to teach 6-year-olds about genocide, rape and slavery," he said.
Erickson believes having a statue of Columbus in a public park symbolizes acceptance.
"Put it in a museum. Let us learn about what really happened," he opined. "Don't destroy the monument, don't throw it into a river. Don't graffiti it. Remove it peacefully and let us remember what really happened."
In a statement Monday evening, Mayor Jim Kenney announced plans to start a “public process” to consider the statue’s future. In a letter, he asked “the Public Art Director to initiate the appropriate process through the Philadelphia Art Commission.”
The city has not yet made a decision on whether or not to move the statue.
For now, a “boxing apparatus will be installed around the statue tomorrow (Tuesday) in order to preserve it while the Art Commission process is followed.”