MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) - Two Connecticut cities have made the decision to temporarily remove their respective statues of Christopher Columbus.
Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim says the decision was made after he received a multitude of messages from residents saying that after seeing other states take down their statues of Christopher Columbus, they would like the city of Middletown to do the same with their statue.
"Of course, there are many in Middletown who want it to stay up, too. To the hundreds of people who were involved in the creation and placement of the statue, it has less to do with the historical figure of Columbus and more to do with their own families’ history in Middletown. I spoke to a number of people on both sides of the issue yesterday," Florsheim explained.
The statue would have to be moved regardless since maintenance work needs to be performed at Harbor Park, which is where the statue stood, this July.
One proposal is to move the statue to "a privately-owned site with heritage significance to the Italian-American community".
For the time being, the statue will be stored at the city's public works storage yard.
Mayor Florsheim stated that he will have ongoing talks with members of the community about what the next steps should be regarding the statue.
Also on Sunday, the city of New London took down their statue around 5:00 Sunday morning.
"I apologize to the press and everyone else who wanted advance notice and to make an event of the removal but under the circumstances I thought it was best to do it quietly and quickly without attracting attention," Mayor Michael Passero said.
The New London City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the issue and perhaps vote on the future of the statue.
Mayor Passero added that the Christopher Columbus statue will remain in storage until a decision is made.
"It had just become a lightning rod for civil discontent and that there was a real and present danger that the artifact would continue to be vandalized," Mayor Passero said.
This is not the first time the Christopher Columbus statues in both Middletown and New London have come under scrutiny.
Back in 2017, the Christopher Columbus in Middletown statue was defaced with red paint just before Columbus Day, and just two weeks ago, protestors marked the Christopher Columbus statue with red spray paint.
A petition was started in Southington to have the Christopher Columbus statue removed.
The petition says, "Christopher Columbus was a cruel man who committed countless crimes against indigenous peoples. He enslaved the native people of the West Indies and was a brutal ruler."