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Mayor, state rep agree: North Enders will decide what to do with Columbus statue once his head is put back together

Michlewitz zooms in on statue, other issues.

Mayor Walsh vowed tonight that Christopher Columbus will not stay headless.

Walsh told the North End/Waterfront Residents Association that he could not yet say when Columbus, the rest of his chiseled body now standing in a city Parks and Recreation Department storage facility - would be ready to face the world again. He said that experts first have to figure out if the seven or eight pieces Columbus's head shattered into when somebody lopped it off can be put back together or if it's become a marble Humpty Dumpty that has to be replaced with a new replica of an Italian explorer's noggin.

But once Columbus gets his head screwed or glued back on, Walsh and state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz said, North End residents will decide where the statue will reside - and whether the park should keep its name.

It's a similar to the stance Walsh took on changing the name of Dudley Square to Nubian Square, that local people should decide the names of local things.

"I'm mayor of Boston, but I live in Dorchester," he said.

Walsh emphasized he does not condone vandalism or defacing but that he understands that the whole Columbus issue is part of a broader discussion about racism, such as where we should honor a man who introduced widespread fatal diseases, executions and slavery to the New World.

As residents consider the future of the statue and the name park, "just understand there's always another side," he urged. He asked North End residents to remember that even on Sunday night, most of the protesters were "peaceful, coming and expressing themselves and going home and not causing all kinds of damage to property."

Michlewitz, who followed Walsh on the agenda, said he figured that the Columbus statue would become a target in the heat of the moment, that even more than storefronts, "I was saying it was going to be the statue."

Like Walsh, Michlewitz said he understands the concerns of people who object to a statue of Columbus in Boston, but, like Walsh, he said it's going to be up to local residents to decide its fate.

"It's something that needs to be a local decision," not something that happens just because of broader, national issues, he said.

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"just understand there's always another side... [most of the protesters were] peaceful, coming and expressing themselves and going home and not causing all kinds of damage to property."

Walsh's words remind me of this historic exchange:

Reporter: "The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest --"

Trump: "Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves -- and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name."

Reporter: "George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same."

Trump: "George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down -- excuse me, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?"

Reporter: "I do love Thomas Jefferson."

Trump: "Okay, good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

"So you know what, it’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people -- and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists -- because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.

"Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group."

..."So I only tell you this: There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country -- a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country."

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Voting closed 14

I grew up next to Longfellow Pahk. The monument to him had the bust of his head on it. It was stolen many times during my time there. It was alway found and returned. I’m truly against tearing down statutes of our history for any reason.

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whose history, again?

statues aren't bestowed by nature, they are the results of very specific choices made by people with influence and money.

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THE HARBOR IS RIGHT THERE GUYS

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So if a neighborhood wanted to put up a Hitler statue that would be fine?

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Put up a statue of Godwin instead.

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So Walsh understands Columbus was a horrible individual and the statue will be an issue because of broader discussions about racism, but if the north end residents want a statue of a horrible man who executed and enslaved people then it's up to them.

He doesn't seem to understand that the decision the city makes will actually reflect on itself and it's values, and rather than be a leader and make the decision himself he will leave it up to the neighborhood that this statue is really barely in.

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I actually thought it was a pretty good response for the mayor to let the local residents decide on that, as he did in the case of Dudley -now Nubian Square. I don't want a mayor who gets caught up into arguments over every city monument or neighborhood renaming.

I am no huge fan of Walsh in general. To me, he is "Mr drive everywhere", hired too many cronies, and too easily bends to unreasonable union demands among other things. But he is quite competent overall, highly aware and knowledgeable about all that's happening all over the City and he is not tone-deaf. It could be worse.

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As long as no one from Dedham gets a say in it this time.

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Amerigo Vespucci for example. Cartographer, fairly ignorant but hey, it was the 15th century, Italian. Oh, and the continent is named after him.

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Italy as a nation didn't even exist at the time.

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The modern country of Italy didn't exist as a nation during the time of Columbus either.

Columbus was born and grew up in the Republic of Genoa, lived many years in Portugal, and later moved to Spain, under whose flag, he made his famous sailing expedition to the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola and other Caribbean islands, but never to what is now the U.S.A. Vespucci was born and raised and lived many years in Florence before moving to Spain.

But, what did exist during the time of Vespucci and Colombus was the Italian language and culture. So, while both men lived their later lives in Spain, they were both raised in Italian culture and spoke the Italian language.

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The head has been taken off so many times It might as well be fitted with a zipper.

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