San Jose to Evict Christopher Columbus Statue from City Hall

After months of impassioned debate, San Jose’s City Council voted to remove the Christopher Columbus statue from the City Hall lobby. But officials have yet to decide on a place to relocate the monument of the controversial explorer.

The vote, which came at a late hour Tuesday night, set a six-week deadline to find a new home for the statue or else store it away. Mayor Sam Liccardo said he wants the city to work with the Italian-American community to find a suitable spot for the marble statue.

Councilors were considering four options for the statue: leave it, sock it away in a service yard, plop it in the Bank of Italy at History Park or tuck it behind a security checkpoint at the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Activists lobbying to remove Columbus from such a prominent public space, where it has repeatedly been the target of vandalism, see the statue as an offensive glorification of a European colonialist who brutalized indigenous people. As council members deliberated over the statue's fate, some in the audience held up signs calling for its removal while others stood and turned their backs in silent protest.

Stand San Jose, a group of community organizers, said keeping the statue in a public place would renew trauma of generations of violence. Below is an open letter the group penned to the council days before their vote.

Peter Ortiz—a San Jose resident and member of the Brown Berets, a Chicano activist group—said he hoped for the sculpture to be moved out of a public area and did not support the option of having it placed inside of the airport.

“We are against a Christopher Columbus statue in a public setting because of the crimes against humanity,” Ortiz told San Jose Inside. “We see the statue in City Hall as glorifying, as a symbol of oppression.”

Leading up to the meeting, Ortiz and other Brown Berets expressed anger at downtown Councilman Raul Peralez for changing his mind about where to put the statue.

“We had been meeting with, we let him know what our positions were, we agreed that it had no place in City Hall,” Ortiz said. “I don’t know if its because he’s up for re-election or what because obviously this is going to be a highly publicized item.”

During the council session, Peralez said he agreed to find a better location for the monument, but that he also made a commitment to not have it stored away.

Because while the statue evokes outrage for some, Peralez noted, it is seen as a piece of history for others. “It’s complex,” Liccardo said from the dais, adding that he’s “not a fan of simply burying history.”

14 Comments

    • Better Brown Berets than Nazi Brown Shirts in San Jose. The Brown Berets don’t turn in the neighbors they despise to a fascist regime or waste their time learning to salute & goosestep for their racist dictator. Mexican food & Latin music is the lifestyle & heritage of San Jose,not German food & European music. Even Vietnamese Food & K-Pop have a bigger following in San Jose than anything European culture has to offer. Quit complaining about all of your neighbors in our diverse community,after all it is the only predominately Asian Congressional District in America & white folks are a minority here.

  1. Does this mean we evict the statute of CrappyCoatal from the down town park known as Ceasar Chavez park, which name will have to be removed as well since his lineage goes directly to Chris Columbo? Then the “San” in Jose will have to be corrected – – where does it end?

  2. The war on white people sculptures:

    http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM6GE4_The_Spirit_of_Almaden_San_Jose_CA

    > Close-up Figures
    > Clockwise from top left are a horseman, miner with a pick axe, a mountain lion, a girl with a doll and a pioneer woman.

    Talk about insensitive and politically incorrect!

    A miner with a pick axe! Despoiling the environment!
    A pioneer woman! Invading the tribal lands of native Americans!

    Send out the San Jose City taliban are dynamite this offensive artwork IMMEDIATELY!

    • The only one saying Trump is doing well is you. Without a question mark at the sentences end it’s a statement (& a lie by the way),not a question. His approval rating is at an all-time low for a President at this point in their first term,the majority of Americans believe he’s a liar & he’s being investigated for obstruction of justice & collusion with Russia. He may be a hero to the 38% who still support him,but considering this group includes such deplorables as bigots,racists & misogynists (alt-right white nationalists,Nazis,fundamentalist religious fanatics,Russian apologists & gullible dimwitted Republican voters duped by his lies),he’s in danger of losing his tenuous grip on the Presidency any day now. Disrespected by the majority of Americans & ridiculed & laughed at by the leaders & citizens of nations worldwide (both our allies & enemies) he’s a total embarrassment to both our democracy & our citizens alike. Yeah,he’s doing real well ! Only a partisan imbecile like SANJOSEMAX would make such an idiotic claim & typically one without a single fact to support his statement. He may be doing well in your dreams,but in mine he’s laying on his back in the Capitol Rotunda. Then there actually will be hundreds of Muslims cheering in the streets of New Jersey,joining with tens of millions of other proud & patriotic Americans nationwide. Believe me,because if you think Trump is doing great you’ll believe anything (even that liar Donald Trump).

      • Herb are you for real? Your hate is off the hook, take a deep breath and try to calm down a bit.
        I personally feel Trump is doing well with his agenda too, whether you agree with that agenda or not is a different matter. But surely we can all discuss his agenda in a civilized grown up manner without calling people Nazis and wishing the man dead. Can’ we….?

      • > Believe me,because if you think Trump is doing great you’ll believe anything (even that liar Donald Trump).

        Waxmania:

        Are finding any additional crumbs in your paycheck because of the Trump tax cut?

        Or, is your government paycheck so big that you don’t need the money?

        By the way, what does a person with a brain as large as yours do for the government?

        Rocket scientist? Astronaut? Design dams and spillways?

  3. What a terrible city and country we live in when ignorant activists can sway ignorant politicians!
    What a shame that neither group is educated enough to pick up a book and read about American history and only base their actions solely on lack of knowledge, stupidity,and ignorance.
    What a pity!

    • Oh well,guess you can’t fix stupid,stupid of course meaning anyone who disagrees with your own point of view. Actually it’s Trump voters who “only base their actions solely on lack of knowledge,stupidity & ignorance”. What a terrible country we live in when conniving & disingenuous politicians can sway addlebrained & clueless voters. “What a pity” ! Arrested for possession of 7/8 of a gram of marijuana by Vero Beach,Florida police “Can’t fix stupid” comedian Ron White later described 7/8 of a gram as being “out of marijuana”. Just how high were you when you appropriated your hero’s tagline for a moniker there,Tater Salad ? Blue Collar Comedy Tour & Redneck Yokel Voters = Dumb De Dumb Dumb,Dumb De Dumb.Dumb,Dumb ! You’re as “doomed as doomed can be” & “that’s a pain that’s going to linger” – Ed Grimley

  4. Listen to the language of the brown berets. They are so focused on race. Everything is some color or another. Classify and divide is their motto. It’s quite clear who the racists are.

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