Another Downtown Denver Statue, ‘In Honor of Christopher Columbus,’ Torn Down

Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite
A statue titled “In Honor of Christopher Columbus” lies in Civic Center Park in Denver after it was torn down June 26, 2020.

Another controversial statue has been torn down in Denver.

The 15-foot bronze sculpture in Civic Center Park was designed by Denver sculptor William F. Joseph. It has a four-sided human figure encircled in rings and symbolizes the globe. It’s titled "In Honor of Christopher Columbus."

Video shows people attempting to pull the structure down Thursday night at around 11:15 p.m. It was found on the ground Friday morning. Denver Police are investigating.

The original title was "Man of All Nations" but the patron, an Italian immigrant, dedicated it to Columbus, according to Denver Public Art Manager Michael Chavez.

The original placard said the man depicted facing four directions was Columbus. It was later replaced to say it commemorates Columbus, Chavez said.

While he wishes the city and its people could have dealt with this statue differently, Chavez said he understands the outrage.

The city plans to remove the pedestal Friday.

Chavez said there is an ongoing effort to reevaluate statues and public art citywide.

"We all live among objects that we take for granted, and it's an important civic exercise to pause and reevaluate the objects that are around us," Chavez said. "We want to do it thoughtfully and thoroughly, but it's not going to happen overnight."

The American Indian Movement of Colorado has advocated for removal or correction of the statue's plaque since the 1990s.

"We believe that 1992 provides the perfect opportunity for Denver to set the historical and political record straight, and to commence a process of removing divisive and destructive elements of life in the city of Denver," they wrote in a letter to the city 28 years ago.

They called the statue part of the city's "racist, anti-Indian legacy."

Friday morning's events followed similar ones early Thursday morning when another monument was pulled down. It commemorated soldiers from Colorado who fought and died in the Civil War. Some of those soldiers participated in the killing of Cheyenne and Arapaho people in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre.

The Denver Police Department will work Friday to identify other statues that could be targeted, according to DPD spokesperson Doug Schepman. He said DPD plans to do additional patrols around those sites.

This developing story will be updated.

Kevin J Beaty contributed reporting to this story.