The recent violence in Charlottesville, racial tension across the nation and the current state of national politics has ignited (or reignited) a debate in State Houses, City Halls, Town Halls and in neighborhoods across the United States about monuments in local communities.Confederate-era and other controversial figures

New York City, Buffalo, San Jose, San Francisco, Detroit and several other cities have all recently been pressured or are considering removing statues of Christopher Columbus, as well as Confederate-era and other controversial figures, from their cityscape. Some, like in Buffalo, are even considering renaming parks that hold Columbus’ name.

Many activists consider the statues in their city of Columbus a symbol of hate or a symbol of racism. More recent views and protests of Columbus have been critical of his colonization and mistreatment of natives during his lifetime, many citing his participation in the slave trade.

In Newport,  a 15-foot tall statue of Columbus has stood tall looking over the intersection of Memorial Boulevard and Bellevue Avenue since 1953. The 1.5 life size bronze statue, showing Christopher Columbus holding an Earth globe in his right hand and his left-hand resting on an anchor, was made possible by a Columbus Monument Committee for the purpose to celebrate and honor the Italian heritage in the community.

The creator of the monument, Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli, provides the following brief history on its website;

The Committee for the construction of a monument to Christopher Columbus as a gift of the Italian community of Newport, Rhode Island, to its own town was formed in 1932. The project and the collection of funds took a long time, so that it was only in 1953 that the Fonderia Marinelli was able to send a small-scale model made by the sculptor Giovanni Cappelletti. After its approval, the artist realized the full-size model, which was cast by the foundry and sent to the USA.

Historically, and mostly around Columbus Day, several citizens and activists will reignite the conversation in Newport on why we shouldn’t celebrate Columbus Day and why the statue should come down. On the other side are proud Italian Americans who see the day and the statue as a celebration of the Italian heritage in the community and country.

With what’s happening in current events and his controversial past, do you think City officials should consider removing the Christopher Columbus statue?

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Ryan Belmore

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  He has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the boards of Fort Adams Trust, Lucy's Hearth, and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

In 2020, he was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, he spent 39 years living in Rhode Island before recently moving to Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two rescue dogs. He still considers Rhode Island home, and visits at least once a month.