SOUTHINGTON, Conn (WTNH) – The local Knights of Columbus chapter unveiled a statue of Christopher Columbus, literally in the shadow of signs held up by protesters.
When the dedication ceremony was set ti begin, dozens of people crammed into Southington’s Municipal Building to honor Christopher Columbus. Then, dozens of protesters quietly filed in with signs. The result was Knights of Columbus in full regalia, standing right next to signs accusing Columbus of genocide.
They are protesting what is just outside the Municipal Building – a new statue of Christopher Columbus.
“The truth needs to come out,” said protester Susan Dantino. “By his own admission, Columbus committed many atrocities. He was really the author of the transatlantic slave trade. He led and participated in the annihilation of 3,000,000 indigenous people.”
“Columbus wasn’t perfect, just as all of us in this room are not perfect,” said Southington Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio. “He was a product of his time and judged people on their ability to fight and provide him with riches.”
Fundraising by the Knights of Columbus and others provided the riches for the statue, not tax money, but it is on public property outside town offices.
“A lot of us do not support this monument going up,” said protester Dorie Conlon Perugini. “We did ask the town council to not put the monument up in the first pace.”
However, Riccio tells News8 that no one spoke out against it when the statue idea was on the council’s official agenda. They only started when they saw it going up. It was unveiled around 11:30 a.m. to a mix of applause and glares from protesters surrounding it with signs. State Senator Joseph Markley, R-Southington, offered praise and compromise.
“Of course he was not the first person on this continent, nor the first European, but Columbus might be said to have discovered America in the same sense that Newton discovered gravity,” Markley said. “He made the world aware of what was there all along.”
Some protesters said they would just like a plaque installed outlining the complicated history of Columbus in the new world. The town says the time for public comment was at a town council meeting more than 2 years ago.