SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California legislative leaders announced Tuesday that the statue of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus in the Capitol Rotunda will be removed.
CBS Sacramento reports the announcement was made by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Assembly Rules Committee Chair Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova).
The statue has been a part of the building since 1883.
In a joint statement, the legislative leaders wrote, “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. It will be removed.”
This announcement comes a day after the statue of John Sutter was removed in Sacramento. The massive John Sutter statue, a symbol of Sacramento’s first days as a city, was removed by Sutter Health at the request of Native American groups calling for social justice and change. It was also the target of vandalism recently.
A group called California Coalition Against Racist Symbols has called for the removal of the Junípero Serra statue in the Capitol garden and the Christopher Columbus statue inside the Capitol building, citing their roles in the genocide of native Americans.
It’s unclear when the Columbus statue will be removed.
According to the California State Capitol Museum website, the large statue is titled Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella. It was gifted to the state in 1883 by Darius Ogden Mills who wrote, “the Rotunda of our State Capitol is an appropriate place for a work of art commemorating an event that had so great an influence on the destinies of the western world.”
In the 1970s, native advocacy groups criticized the statue and advocated for it to be replaced and not returned after restoration, but despite the criticism, the statue was returned.