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City kills planned study on reinstallation of Christopher Columbus statue

The Christopher Columbus statue was removed from Columbus City Hall on July 1, 2020.
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Columbus City Council has indefinitely put off a plan to study whether and where to reinstall a Christopher Columbus statue. Council was set to vote Monday night on a plan to pay a firm $253,000 for "public education, and facilitating the community in public discussion about the potential re-installation" of the statue.

The city removed the statue from outside city hall in July 2020 following weeks of Black Lives Matter protests. Many other cities made similar decisions with their statues of the explorer accused of widespread racial atrocities.

That happened after the social justice protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Jennifer Fening, deputy director of the city's Department of Development, said a 14-member working group has been working on what to do with the statue.

"The group sees the statue as a painful symbol for our indigenous community and for communities of color. Individuals who are harmed by Christopher Columbus and colonialism and by people affected by racism more broadly," Fening said,

Had city council voted to pass it, the ordinance would authorize the Director of the Department of Development to spend up to $253,000 for a contract with Designing Local Ltd. for community education and engagement and developing contextual materials about the statue.

Columbus has become a controversial figure for his role in abusing indigenous groups. City leaders would also evaluate the potential of re-installing the statue in a new public location.

"I think the working group really hopes that the statue can create a new place where the community can gather to learn about difficult history, and to have an opportunity for healing," Fening said.

There's no word on where or when the statue might be relocated.

Matthew Rand is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher.