The bust of Christopher Columbus in downtown Lancaster should be removed, Democratic County Commissioner Craig Lehman said Tuesday.
Earlier this week the statue was vandalized with spray paint, and nationally a conversation has been rumbling about the legacy of the 15th- century explorer and whether statues of his likeness should be removed.
“All things considered, I believe it is time for the county to remove that statue,” Lehman said. “Vandalism is not the answer to removing the statue. Only by public dialogue and public discussion and public support can we ever get to the point that that statue will ultimately be removed.”
The statue is located on Lenox Lane, a small pedestrian alley beside the old Lancaster County Courthouse. According to newspaper archives, the bust was erected in 1992.
Representations of Columbus have drawn increased criticism in recent days as protesters take issue with what they say is a representation of genocide.
In Philadelphia on Monday, Mayor Jim Kenney said he has initiated “a public process” to determine the future of their Columbus statue, located in South Philadelphia, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lehman’s colleague, Republican Commissioner Josh Parsons, said he believes the statue should stay.
“My position is unchanged since the last time we talked about this,” Parsons said in an email, referring to a 2017 discussion about the statue. “At that time the Board with unanimously in favor of keeping it.”
In 2017, an activist urged City Council to take down the bust, calling the explorer “not worthy of modern adoration.” City council said it was a county owned property and referred it to the commissioners, who did not take action to remove it.
Lehman, who was also a commissioner in 2017, said his opinion has changed since then because he has been lobbying federal official to create an “indigenous people’s week” and thought that would help shift the conversation on the statue. However, he said he is “no longer willing to wait” following the killing of George Floyd, which sparked the national conversation about statues.
Republican Commissioner Ray D’Agostino, who said he was travelling, provided a brief email statement. “At this time I would say I am inclined to keep the statue,” he said.