Philadelphia Won't Take Down Box Encasing Columbus Statue Despite Court Order to Remove It

Philadelphia refuses to take down the plywood box encasing the statue of Christopher Columbus located in the city's Marconi Plaza despite a court order for its removal.

The city is appealing a decision issued Friday morning by Judge Paula Patrick of the Court of Common Pleas to immediately remove the box, The statue is concealed with the box to prevent potential vandalism.

Kevin Lessard, the deputy communications director of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's office, told Newsweek on Friday that the city "immediately appealed this ruling."

'We cannot, and have no intention to, remove the box at this time. We continue to believe it is in the best interest and public safety of all Philadelphians that the statue remains secured in its box," Lessard said.

Patrick also ordered on Friday that the statue can be surrounded by a clear layout in the "interest of safety and preservation upon removal of the plywood structure," local news station WPVI-TV reported.

Philadelphia Won't remove box Encasing Columbus statue
A judge ruled on Friday that the removal of the plywood box surrounding the Columbus statue in Philadelphia which was placed to protect the statue from potential vandalism. Above, a worker from the Boston Parks & Recreation Department inspects a Christopher Columbus statue that had its head removed at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on June 10, 2020. Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Some people in the city believe that the statue of Colombus represents oppression, while others believe that it is a crucial symbol that represents Italian-American heritage, according to WPVI.

In August, Patrick said in a court ruling that the Columbus statue can stay in Marconi Plaza. The order reversed decisions made by the city's Board of License and Inspection Review and the Philadelphia Historical Commission to remove the statue.

The city is appealing that decision too.

"It is baffling to this Court as to how the City of Philadelphia wants to remove the Statue without any legal basis. The City's entire argument and case is devoid of any legal foundation," the judge said in its court decision in August.

Patrick also said at the time that the city wanted to remove the statue primarily because of the 2020 civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd.

Newsweek contacted the court for comments but didn't hear back by the time of publishing.

In 2020, Kenney said that leaving the statue for public display will impact public safety. But judge Patrick ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to justify those public safety concerns and called past disputes over the statue "isolated."

Lessard told Newsweek in August that they "were disappointed with the ruling" and that the statue will remain in Marconi Plaza and "will continue to be secured in its existing box."

Update 10/8/21, 6:36 p.m. ET: The story has been updated to include comments from Kevin Lessard, the deputy communications director of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's office.