Christopher Columbus, Queen Isabella statue removed from State Capitol Rotunda

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Three weeks after lawmakers announced plans for its removal, the Capitol’s Christopher Columbus statue was removed Tuesday morning.

The statue is titled “Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella” and depicts a marble rendition of Columbus kneeling before Queen Isabella presenting a sphere to her as a young attendant looks on. 

The statue has been at the center of the first-floor rotunda since 1883 when it was gifted to the state by Darius Ogden Mills, according to the California State Capitol Museum website.

Donna Delgadillo, who identifies as an Indigenous woman, says her people have been waiting that same 137 years to see the statue come down.

“For me to bear witness to this coming out of the Capitol, I can’t believe this is actually happening,” Delgadillo said. “I don’t feel like a murderer and a person responsible for genocide should be honored in a statue in the rotunda at the State Capitol.”

Delgadillo joined a small group cheering on the removal. However, a few people who gathered didn’t want to see it go.

“Just put current information about Christopher Columbus or negotiate with the Native American people and say ‘What would you like here?’” Bonnie Sue said. 

Sue thinks a better approach would be to add more Native American historical elements to the Capitol.

“I think people need to come together, doing something like this just splits people apart,” Sue explained. 

That divide can be seen among California’s lawmakers. 

Some Republicans requested the statue stay in place, after Democrat leaders of the Assembly, Senate and Rules Committee announced the statue would come down, saying in part:

Christopher Columbus is a deeply polarizing historical figure given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere had on indigenous populations. The continued presence of this statue in California’s Capitol, where it has been since 1883, is completely out of place today.

In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, many Confederate symbols and monuments, as well as monuments of slave traders and colonizers, have been damaged by protesters or removed by local authorities.

statue of John Sutter was removed from Sutter Medical Center in Midtown on June 15. 

On July 4, demonstrators vandalized and toppled the statue of Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra, another Colonial-era figure praised by some for his role in spreading Catholicism, but vilified by others for doing it through the subjugation and genocide of Indigenous Californians. A statue honoring Mexican American veterans was also vandalized the same day

Delgadillo said she was there the night the Serra statue came down.

“It’s exciting, it’s progress, it’s long overdue,” she explained. “It’s about damn time. My children deserve it, my grandchildren deserve it.”

The Columbus statue will be cleaned then the family that owns it will weigh in on what will be done with it.

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