The statue of Christopher Columbus in the state Capitol is prepared for removal. Courtesy Sen. Shannon Grove’s office

Republicans in the California Senate are seeking to halt plans to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from the Capitol in Sacramento.

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield and members of the Republican caucus signed on to a letter urging members of the Joint Rules Committee to keep the sculpture in the Capitol because of its historical significance.

Democratic leaders announced June 16 that the statue would be removed because “Christopher Columbus is a deeply polarizing historical figure given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere had on indigenous populations.”

The statue, “Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella,” has been on display at the Capitol since 1883 except for a brief period in 1981 when it was moved to a temporary location while the Capitol underwent restoration.

“As misguided as Columbus may have been, history cannot be re-written, nor his accomplishments diminished,” the Republicans wrote in their letter.

The letter notes that the sculpture was originally acquired by banker and philanthropist Darius Ogden Mills, a proponent of making Sacramento the state capital, for $30,000. Mills later donated the statue to the state.

“Some will say the removal of the statue is anti-Catholic. Others will say it is racist against Italian Americans. We say it is uninformed,” the Republicans wrote. “We must not allow fear of our past to push us to ignore the lessons learned through uneducated and ignorant action by simply removing our history from sight.”

The City of Chula Vista removed its statue of Christoper Columbus on June 12 after it was vandalized during recent protests.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.