As Philly officials kick off renovation of Columbus Square, native peoples protest against honoring the explorer

May 07, 2019 308

BY: Jeff Gammage

The groundbreaking ceremony at Columbus Square started out as the kind of event that takes place all the time in Philadelphia — a few shiny shovels stuck in a pile of dirt, the people who worked on the project sharing congratulations. But this one played out differently Monday in a green pocket of South Philadelphia, where Native American-rights activists declared that the park’s namesake explorer was a killer and slaver who deserves no honor.

City Councilman Mark Squilla was wrapping up his remarks when a group of demonstrators stepped forward, blocking him with a banner that said the park’s planned $2.5 million renovation was nothing to celebrate. “Columbus didn’t discover the Americas,” read the sign. “He invaded it.”

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