Sons of Italy: Columbus statue should be moved to Federal Hill

Photos: Eric Halperin/WPRI-TV

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – After a statue of Christopher Columbus was targeted by vandals in Providence, the head of the local chapter of the Sons of Italy is calling for the effigy to be moved to the community it primarily represents.

Presumably in protest of Columbus Day, vandals doused the statue bearing the Italian explorer’s likeness with red paint Monday morning.

The statue, which stands at the intersection of Elmwood and Reservoir Avenues, has since been cleaned, but the image has not been erased from Don Angelo’s memory.

“I was very disappointed because personally I don’t believe in destroying private or public property,” Angelo told Eyewitness News on Tuesday.

Angelo, the state president of the Sons of Italy in America, believes the statue should be moved to a place where it can be well kept and better protected, such as Federal Hill.

“I think over the years, a movement started about 7 or 8 years ago to move the statue,” Angelo explained. “People felt that it belonged in the center of an Italian-American community.”

Angelo said he understands why some people don’t want to celebrate Columbus, primarily because of the mistreatment of Native Americans upon his arrival to the Americas. But if you examine human history, according to Angelo, you’ll find imperfection everywhere you look.

“If we looked at every historical person and dissected them, you will find things that everybody has done that’s not too happy to look at, not too good to look at,” he said.

Rather than defacing statues, Angelo said it’s better to have dialogue, and he wants to start with Native Americans.

“I think personally, this country hasn’t done enough for them,” Angelo said. “But there’s got to be a way we can create something for them, with their help, for them, as well as continue our tradition of Italian culture surrounding Columbus Day.”

Darrell Waldron, executive director of the Rhode Island and Regional Indian Council, said he plans to reach out to Angelo so they can discuss Columbus Day and the Christopher Columbus statue.