Mixed reviews over Christopher Columbus statue coming to Johnston

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WLNE) — A controversial statue is making its way to Johnston.

The Christopher Columbus statue that was previously taken down in Providence back in 2020, was bought by former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino Jr.

The statue will be put on the island at Johnston Memorial Park. Although the statue was repeatedly vandalized when in Providence. The majority of Johnston residents said they welcome it, while a few people said it will be vandalized again.

When asked, one resident told ABC 6 News they didn’t have any problem with it at all.

Doug, a long-time Johnston resident said given the large Italian population in the town, the statue is a good fit.

“I guess it’s an appropriate place to put it in this town and at memorial park, this being a very diverse town but a large Italian population, so probably a good place for it,” Doug told ABC 6 News.

Rita Seppala, a Johnston resident who visits the Memorial Park every day said there shouldn’t be any controversy coming with the statue.

“It’s awesome, he discovered America, so what’s better than that, I think it’ll look great on the island over there,” she said.

 Some residents however, said why put it in Johnston if there’s a possibility it could be vandalized again.

“Most people who vandalize are probably younger, and the younger population especially in this town I think, is a lot more leftist leaning, but I don’t think they’re going to like it,” Kaylyn Welch, a Johnston resident said.

Johnston’s Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. said he is not worried about persistent vandalism.

“People may disagree with the sentiment but I don’t judge people who lived 500 years ago based on today’s standards, so I feel it’s appropriate being in Johnston and we’re very happy to have it here,” the mayor said.

Paolino said he wants to put the piece of history to good use where there’s a large Italian community.

“I felt it was a slap in the face to Italian Americans in Rhode Island when the city of Providence got rid of it,” “I didn’t want to see it get melted into scrap metal,” Paolino said.

Polisena Jr. said the statue will not cost residents any tax dollars and said a fence will be donated to prevent vandalism, as well as security cameras.

The $50,000 paid for the statue is set to go directly to the Elmwood Neighborhood in Providence.

Categories: News, Rhode Island