It’s official: South Philadelphia’s 146-year-old Columbus statue is staying put in Marconi Plaza, and the plywood box — concealing the monument from public view — must be removed, a panel of Commonwealth Court judges ruled on Friday.
The appeals loss is a bitter one for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who was openly criticized by Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick last year over his attempt at removing the statue.
“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,” said Judge Patrick, who first ruled on the matter, in August 2021.
“As a proud Citizen of Philadelphia, I am delighted that both Judge Patrick of the Court of Common Pleas and the Judges of the Commonwealth Court have boldly reaffirmed that the rule of law still matters,” said George Bochetto, a nationally renowned attorney who spearheaded the legal effort to preserve the statue. “That we are not a society ruled by cancel culture mobs. That all ethnic groups can proudly protect and honor their diverse heritages.”
Bochetto is involved in a second lawsuit, which he filed on behalf of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations (COPOMIAO), over Mayor Kenney’s decision to unilaterally change the Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day in Philadelphia.
“Members of the media rolled their eyes at our legal efforts. Now, suddenly, with major wins in Syracuse and Philadelphia, with lawsuits playing out in Chicago, Pittsburgh and in the federal courts, with the White House’s revived recognition of Columbus this past October, and with major Columbus parades seeing meteoric boosts in attendance, it’s more than apparent that public opinion is changing and that legal precedents are being set that will protect our Italian American history,” said Basil M. Russo, who serves as National President of both COPOMIAO and Italian Sons and Daughters of America.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS OF MAJOR ITALIAN AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
Formed in 1975 and based in NYC, the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations is comprised of 60 of the most influential, cultural, educational, fraternal and anti-defamation groups in the nation. The Conference of Presidents is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution.