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Cuomo defends Columbus statue as symbol of legacy for Italian-Americans

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
A statue of Christopher Columbus sits in Syracuse's Columbus Circle

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday he does not think a statue of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in New York City’s Columbus Circle should be removed. 

"I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts which nobody would support," Cuomo said.

He says the statue has come to represent appreciation for the "Italian-American contribution to New York."

“For that reason, I support it," Cuomo said.

A Native American group does not agree, and compares the statue of Columbus to the negative connotations in the Confederate Flag.

Betty Lyons, a member of the Onondaga Nation and president and executive director of the American Indian Law Alliance, said in a statement that the governor’s "eloquence in response to the anti-racism movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd" apparently does not extend to the plight of Native Americans.

She said those who "ignore Christopher Columbus’ role in giving the green light to centuries of racism and dehumanizing of Indigenous peoples must be called to task."

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.