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.