Cuomo Defends Columbus Statue: It ‘Represents’ Legacy Of Italian Americans

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference held in LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B on June 10, 2020 in New York City. Citing LaGuardia Airport's old age and criticisms comparing it to a "third-world country," Cuomo praised the airport's drastic remodeling, a mutli-year, multi-billion-dollar construction project. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference held in LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B on June 10, 2020 in New York City. Citing LaGuardia Airport's old age and criticisms comp... NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference held in LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B on June 10, 2020 in New York City. Citing LaGuardia Airport's old age and criticisms comparing it to a "third-world country," Cuomo praised the airport's drastic remodeling, a mutli-year, multi-billion-dollar construction project. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 11, 2020 1:02 p.m.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday defended New York City’s statue paying tribute to Christopher Columbus amid the toppling of monuments of the colonizer as well as Confederate generals after George Floyd’s death.

During a press conference on Thursday morning, Cuomo said although he “understands the dialogue” regarding the criticism surrounding Columbus’ history of colonization, the New York governor argued that the statue honoring him near Central Park “represents” the legacy and contributions of Italian Americans in the country.

“I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support, but the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” Cuomo said. “For that reason, I support it.”

This isn’t the first time that the New York governor refused the removal of the Columbus statue. During his 2018 announcement that the Columbus statue was listed in the New York State Register of Historic Places, Cuomo touted that it’s “a powerful symbol of the Italian-American community and a testament to New York’s role in assimilating immigrants from all over the world in our state.”

“This designation sends a strong message of the statue’s importance to our state’s history and how worthy it is of preservation so that future generations cans see it, appreciate it and learn from it,” Cuomo said in his 2018 announcement.

Cuomo’s remarks come a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded the removal of 11 statues representing Confederate figures from the U.S. Capitol.

Hours before Pelosi issued her letter to the leadership of the Joint Committee on the Library, President Trump tweeted that he will “not even consider” changing bases named after Confederate generals, contradicting Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy’s statement on Monday saying that they are “open to a bipartisan discussion” on renaming the bases.

Watch Cuomo’s remarks below:

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