A candidate for New York mayor defended a statue of Christopher Columbus in Manhattan as she took aim at Mayor de Blasio’s plan to remove “symbols of hate” across the city.
Nicole Malliotakis, the mayor’s presumptive Republican challenger, said she thinks the statue of Columbus, which sits at the center of Columbus Circle, should stay put.
“Even Christopher Columbus, the founder of our nation, is under attack,” she said Wednesday.
Malliotakis later tweeted she misspoke by referring to the 15th century Italian explorer as the founder of the U.S.
De Blasio has not commented on Malliotakis’ remarks.
The century-old Columbus Circle statue is one of the potential “symbols of hate” that's being looked at under a 90-day review. De Blasio ordered the review after the removal of Confederate monuments sparked violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Malliotakis called the review divisive and poorly planned. "That's the problem with this mayor — he's quick to send off a press release," she said.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is among those who want the statue of Columbus removed due to his treatment of Native Americans.
"I will wait for the commission, as I said Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure to many of us particularly in the Caribbean and I think that that has to be looked at, when you have to look at history we have to look at it thoroughly and clearly," Mark-Viverito said Monday.
The NYPD Columbia Association, a 6,000-member organization of officers who promotes awareness of contributions made to the U.S. by Italians and Italian-Americans, says it "strongly condemns" Mark-Viverito's call to remove the statue of Columbus, which was gifted to the city by Italian Americans in 1892.