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Chula Vista City Council votes to remove Columbus statue from Discovery Park

Posted at 12:14 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 15:35:48-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — Chula Vista city leaders voted to remove the Christopher Columbus statue at Discovery Park during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

In a 4-1 vote, council leaders approved a plan to remove the statue from the park and find a replacement for the statue that may include, "a work of art or other statue that reflects Chula Vista’s diversity, including its Indigenous People," according to a staff report on the plan.

Deputy Mayor John McCann was the only no vote.

"I'm really proud of my community. I'm really proud of the people that took the time, that said, 'you know what, we have to correct the injustices of history. We have to recognize that history is written by the victors,'" said Mayor Mary Casillas Salas ahead of the vote. "We have to honor the first people that were here. And how dare other cultures come in and say they are superior. How dare they come in and say the culture that was there, the practices that they had, the sciences that they had are not as good as they are."

The statue itself has already been removed from the park since 2019 after it was vandalized with red paint on Indigenous People's Day. It was then placed in storage after "out of public safety concerns."

Prior to its removal, the Columbus statue had been in the park for nearly 30 years. But during that time, it was a frequent target of vandalism. Since 2019, the city has heard arguments for and against the statue being removed. Those in support of removal call the sculpture a symbol of hate, genocide, and theft of land.

The city's Human Relations Commission also recommended to the council that a task force is created to explore renaming Discovery Park and what would replace the statue, which was referred back to the commission by the council to develop out further.

Mayor Casillas Salas added prior to the vote that Chula Vista would also officially recognize Indigenous People's Day.