SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced Friday that the city will move forward with steps to remove the Christopher Columbus statue in Syracuse.

Statues across America have been taken down in a national movement to get rid of monuments the people feel represent oppression or White supremacy. Although a source of controversy for decades, protesters began demanding the City of Syracuse remove its Christopher Columbus statue back in June 2020.

The Columbus statue will be moved to a private site. The fountain and monument will be replaced with a permanent memorial to Italian Americans. It will also feature historical information regarding the impacts of colonialism and will recognize the Onondaga Nation, whose ancestral land the City of Syracuse sits. Walsh said he will appoint a commission to begin the process of designing specific changes, including a new name for the site.

“This space should be both a tribute to Italian Americans and a place of healing at which we celebrate our shared accomplishments,” said Mayor Walsh. “This decision is based on the fact that we can honor our Italian American community without focusing on a statue that has become the source of division over decades and overshadowed the original intent of the monument.”

To remove the statue, the City of Syracuse has to follow specific provisions in local and state law to make the changes. The city will use a combination of private and public funds.

Read the full press release below: