San José city councilman considers removing Christopher Columbus statue

ABC 7 KGO August 23, 2017

A statue inside of San José City Hall is creating controversy and now there is a petition to have it removed.

The statue of Christopher Columbus is prominently displayed in the main lobby of San José City Hall. It was donated to the city back in 1958 by the Italian American community, but an online petition recently surfaced to have it removed.

"I think they're crazy. I think you just leave it alone. Columbus is a good guy I think he practically discovered America," said Bob Gray, a San José resident.

A group called The Brown Berets of San José says City Hall is not the place for it. Members told ABC7News national sentiment over hate speech, white supremacy, and the removal of Confederate monuments prompted them to take action. They say Columbus' dark history shouldn't be glorified.

"He was behind one of the largest genocides on the planet and he was responsible for the rape and slavery of Native Americans. Nobody wants to talk about that but we're here to bring that conversation front and center," said Peter Ortiz, with the Brown Berets.

The Brown Berets say they don't want the statue destroyed. They feel it should be relocated to a more appropriate place.

Councilman Raul Peralez says The Oholone Indian Community has expressed their desire to also have the statue removed. He's writing a memorandum so that the City Council could take up the issue.

"Did he have a significant history to the Americas, absolutely. Is that a part of our history, yes. But is it a piece that deserves to be glorified at City Hall? No I don't believe so," said Peralez.

The Executive Director of Little Italy San José told us they understand the concerns surrounding the statue and would be open to display the statue in their neighborhood if it came to that.