PHILADELPHIA - Mayor Kenney announced Saturday that he and city officials from his office made a successful appeal regarding a judge's decision to order the box surrounding the Christopher Columbus statue removed.
The appeal was successful in that Commonwealth Court reviewed Mayor Kenney's appeal and approved a stay on the matter.
As a result, no further actions will be taken regarding the statue at this time and it will remain boxed up.
City representative Kevin Lessard said Saturday night that removal of the covering during the holiday weekend "would pose a serious public safety risk." He earlier said officials would stop any attempt to remove the covering prior to the state court hearing.
Attorney George Bochetto, who represents supporters of the 144-year-old statue, had vowed that it would be visible by the time a scheduled Sunday parade concluded at the plaza.
Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick had said Friday that the city could erect a clear structure to protect the monument but must remove the plywood.
In Philadelphia, a city with a deep Italian heritage, supporters say they consider Columbus an emblem of that heritage. Mayor Jim Kenney said Columbus was venerated for centuries as an explorer but had a "much more infamous" history, enslaving Indigenous people and imposing punishments such as severing limbs or even death.
Kenney earlier signed an executive order changing the name of the city’s annual Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day. Monday will be the first city holiday under the new name.
After the unrest following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd last year, Kenney characterized removing the statue as a matter of public safety. Patrick, however, wrote that the city had failed to provide evidence that the statue’s removal was necessary to protect the public, calling the confrontations "isolated civil unrest."
The judge ruled in August that the statue could remain in the plaza, calling the decision to remove it "baffling" and unsupported by law and based on insufficient evidence. The ruling overturned a decision by a city licensing board that upheld a July 2020 decision by the city historical commission to remove the statue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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