By coincidence, Ruth and I have seen 2 controversial statues recently. We saw the statue of Christopher Columbus in St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park. It was covered at the time and has since been removed. We also saw the statue of Roman Emperor Constantine outside York Minster Cathedral in Great Britain that is threatened with removal.
Constantine The Great was proclaimed the Roman Emperor in 306 AD. As Emperor he recognized the civil liberties of his Christian subjects and converted to Christianity himself. However, he did not abolish slavery, which has made him a protest target in the 21st century. England’s Daily Mail newspaper reported on July 14, 2020, that the statue in York outside York Minster Cathedral could be torn down after complaints that Constantine supported slavery put it at risk. The statue shown above has been in place since 1988. Constantine was proclaimed the Roman Emperor in Eboracum, which was a fort and a city in the Roman province of Britain in what is now modern-day York. The Roman army made Constantine the sole Emperor after his father died and Constantine was victorious in some civil wars.
The bronze statue of Christopher Columbus was erected in 1886 and removed on June 16, 2020. It has survived years of vandalism and a protest by a Native American woman upset over mistreatment of indigenous people. At least that is what Ruth & I were told. Before it was removed, police told the St. Louis Board of Commissioners that they would be unable to monitor the statue, so it was removed to protect it before vandals damaged or destroyed it. The statue was cleaned and put into storage.
This Columbus statue was put in place in 1886 to celebrate the contributions of Italian immigrants. It was commissioned by Henry Shaw, who founded Tower Grove Park. Many Italians came to St. Louis and many of them settled in an area known as The Hill, forming a sizable and solid ethnic community. This statue in nearby Tower Grove Park became the center of Columbus Day celebrations for this community and local Catholic groups.
Columbus statues have been criticized nationwide and some have been toppled or removed. A Christopher Columbus statue was beheaded in Boston by protesters, and a Columbus statue in Richmond, VA that had been placed in 1927 was torn down, defaced, set on fire, and thrown in a lake in June, 2020.