Waterbury voters: Columbus statue should stay on city land

Don Stacom, Hartford Courant
·1 min read

The controversial Christopher Columbus statue outside Waterbury’s city hall won public support at Tuesday’s election: Voters decided to keep it in place.

In an unusual referendum, a strong majority of Waterbury residents said they want the statue to stay on public land.

The statue currently faces Grand Avenue with no head, the victim of a late-night vandal over the July 4th holiday. The local UNICO club has offered to repair it.

Waterbury’s statue, like others across the state honoring the 15th century explorer, came under criticism in June during protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Hartford, Norwalk, New Haven, Middletown and New London all removed similar statues because of complaints that they honor a man guilty of genocide, racism and slave trading. Southington, New Britain and Waterbury left their memorials in place.

Under pressure, New Britain’s council had a municipal committee assess what to do; the recommendation was move the statue to private land, though a suitable destination has not been found. Waterbury decided to let the public decide how to proceed after the vandalism.

Mayor Neil O’Leary arranged a referendum question for the November ballot asking if the statue should remain in front of city hall. According to unofficial results, about 17,234 people voted yes and roughly 11,747 voted no, City Clerk Antoinette “Chick” Spinelli reported Wednesday evening.

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