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Common Council "unlikely" to act on petition to remove Columbus statue

Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 18:38:37-04

City lawmakers say there is "no support" behind a petition filed with the Buffalo Common Council to take down the Christopher Columbus statue and rename Columbus Park.

The issue was discussed extensively at the legislation committee meeting Tuesday. 19 members of the public addressed the council. 11 of those people were calling for the city to take down the Columbus statue.

"I, and many of my colleagues, are in favor of keeping the statue and Columbus Park in Buffalo," Council Member Joel Feroleto said during the meeting. He was the only council member who spoke during the public comment portion.

Council Member David Franczyk, chair of the legislation committee, said following the meeting he doesn't expect the council to move forward with this proposal in any way.

Franczyk said no one on the council had expressed support for the item. But he did say the council would be supportive of measures to honor the heritage of Native Americans in other ways.

Brandon Absher, of the Buffalo Anti-Racism Coalition, created a change.org petition and filed a letter with the council calling for the statue's removal and renaming of Columbus Park to honor indigenous peoples.

"All that we're saying is we shouldn't have parks named in honor of, or statues commemorating, a person who committed those kinds of atrocities," Absher said. "These things include maiming children and innocent people."

Many people did turn out asking the council to keep the statue up as a symbol of Italian-American pride.

"The source of pride is his journey," Donald Alessi, of the Federation of Italian American Societies of WNY, said. "His journey. His voyage. That's the source of pride because no other voyage did more for bringing the world together than did Columbus' voyage to the New World."

A competing change.org petition in support of the Columbus statue also surfaced recently. At 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, it had more signatures than the petition to remove the statue.