CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Chula Vista is looking for a new home for the city’s frequently vandalized Christopher Columbus statue, officials announced Thursday.
The effigy, created by sculptor Mario Zamora in the 1990s, has been in storage since a summer of racial justice protests in 2020.
The decision to hand off the statue to new owners comes after months of deliberation from an 11-member task force assembled by the Chula Vista City Council. That group met several times to determine the fate of the statue, which once stood in Discovery Park, located in the Rancho Del Rey community.
The statue will be available to “any museum, historical society, educational organization, or other entities interested in acquiring the statue for relocation and placement,” a city spokesperson wrote in a news release.
Interested organizations will have to submit a request that proposes how they would display the statue and “what historical information will be included with the display.” They will also have to cover all costs associated with transferring the artwork.
The city plans to place a new art piece where the statue once stood.
Officials have been considering impassioned calls to remove the statue for years, with activists arguing the monument glorifies the explorer and colonist despite the violence against indigenous people that took place during his conquests.
Some states, plus at least seven cities in California, have stopped officially celebrating Columbus Day on similar grounds.
But others argue the story of Columbus is an important part of Italian-American and Catholic heritage, and that Columbus remains a highly notable historical figure.
“We stand proudly of our history. History of our faith, history of the world, history of our country,” Rene Trevino, with the conservative Catholic organization Knights of Columbus, told the council when it was still debating the statue’s fate.
As debate continued, vandals occasionally took matters into their own hands, spray-painting or otherwise defacing the statue. In 2019, for example, someone splashed red paint on Columbus’ head and scrawled the word “genocide” along its base.
With a plan in place, the city will now accept submissions through Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. Then the task force will review and consider the submissions, possibly asking applicants to present further at a meeting, which will be open to the public.