PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City officials say they will seek the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia amid public safety concerns due to armed individuals in the park and ongoing disputes between supporters and protesters. Mayor Jim Kenney announced Wednesday the city will ask the Philadelphia Art Commission to approve the removal of the statue on July 22.

Philadelphia residents can provide public input about the statue via written submission and can also testify at the July 22 Art Commission meeting, officials say.

 

Any Philadelphian who would like to offer written thoughts about the statue’s future online by clicking here. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21.

“Like many communities across the country, Philadelphia is in the midst of a much-needed reckoning about the legacy of systemic racism and oppression in this country and around the world,” Kenney said. “Part of that reckoning requires reexamining what historical figures deserve to be commemorated in our public spaces. In recent weeks, clashes between individuals who support the statue of Christopher Columbus in Marconi Plaza and those who are distressed by its existence have deteriorated — creating a concerning public safety situation that cannot be allowed to continue. We must find a way forward that allows Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage and culture while respecting the histories and circumstances of others that come from different backgrounds.”

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Meanwhile, District Attorney Larry Krasner on Wednesday announced charges against a 58-year-old man who allegedly told a Black man, who is a professional photographer, to “get out of here, boy” numerous times before punching him in the face at Marconi Plaza on Tuesday night.

Krasner also suggested that there’s been an “unequal application of the law” by the police during the continued demonstrations at Marconi Plaza.