Cuomo defends Christopher Columbus statue
New York State’s most prominent Italian-American politician is sticking up for Christopher Columbus.
Appearing at the West Indian Day Parade on Monday, Gov. Cuomo said statues of the famous Italian explorer should remain in the public square.
“The Christopher Columbus statue is really about honoring Italian Americans,” Cuomo said.
“I for one for obvious reasons happen to believe in the Italian-American heritage. I believe in the contribution Italian-Americans have made, just as I believe in celebrating the Caribbean and the Israel day parade.”
Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito have come under a firestorm of criticism for mulling the removal of a Christopher Columbus statues — including the 76-foot structure in Columbus Square — as part of a review of offensive monuments.
The mayor has backtracked following the outcry.
“There’s no plan to remove the Columbus statue,” said de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips.
While the Italian explorer is revered for discovering the New World, Columbus’ detractors said he mistreated and enslaved native Caribbean populations and doesn’t deserve to be extolled.
It’s the first time Cuomo has waded in on the controversy after declining comment last week.
“The Italian American contribution and the Italian American culture is a big part if what makes New York, New York,” Cuomo said.
The governor said he understood the movement was triggered by outrage over the celebration of the Ku Klux Klan and the pro-slavery confederacy during violent protests in Charlottesville last month.
But, he added, “Carrying it to the point where you want to say that we shouldn’t honor Italian Americans the way we have St. Patrick’s Day for Irish Americans, the Caribbean Day Parade for our brothers and sisters from the Caribbean, I think that goes too far.”
IMAGE: Modal Trigger Cuomo defends Christopher Columbus statue
Gov. Andrew Cuomo Getty Images
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