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Judge Prevents Syracuse (NY) Mayor From Removing Christopher Columbus Statue

Judge Prevents Syracuse (NY) Mayor From Removing Christopher Columbus Statue

Court: “Respondents have no legal right to alter the piece of art known as the Christopher Columbus Monument or remove same or any part of it from its present place on St. Mary’s Circle, commonly known as Columbus Circle, in the City of Syracuse.”

In 2020, monuments were torn down in numerous locations as part of the BLM and anarchist riots, and also as politicians jumped on the bandwagon to remove statutues of now-unpopular figures from American history. It was a historical purge, and Christopher Columbus was a particular target, as we reported in multiple posts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWlpURGYHoA

In Syracuse, New York, Mayor Ben Walsh and city officials filed paperwork to remove the Columbus statute, but local citizens fought back in court. We covered it on May 21, 2021, Syracuse (NY) Group Sues To Save Columbus Statue. You can read the Petition (with exhibits), which provided in part:

1. This petition seeks relief under CPLR Article 78 to prohibit the City of Syracuse from altering or removing the Christopher Columbus Monument at Columbus Circle. The petition also asks for judgment declaring the City without legal authority to alter or remove the Christopher Columbus Monument and that the threatened actions of the Mayor constitute a breach of Trust under the City Charter. To that end, the petitioners seek relief under Article 78 directing the City to maintain the Monument in its current form.

2. By way of context, the petitioners seek to stop the Mayor of Syracuse, and the City government, from altering, desecrating or destroying the Christopher Columbus Monument in St. Mary’s Circle in its present form (“Monument” ). The Monument, entrusted to the City in 1934 by thousands of City residents of Italian descent in gratitude for America, sits within a preservation district that includes the Onondaga County Courthouse, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the First Baptist Church, the historic Carnegie Library, the historic Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Powelson property. Besides its significance to community members, it is a magnificent piece of art reflecting the collaboration between noted Florentine sculptor Renzo Baldi (who crafted the statuary) and nationally regarded Syracuse architect Dwight James Baum. (who designed the obelisk and fountain) 1 The Monument is protected by various state, local and federal preservation laws.

3. The respondent Walsh, in disregard of all this, unilaterally decreed (i.e., without legislative direction by the Common Council) and threatened, on October 9, 2020, three days before the public’s 88th Columbus Day celebration held within the Circle, to personally see the Monument be removed from its home and moved to a not -identified “private location.” He continues that threat today.

4. Petitioners object to the Mayor’s intentions. Moreover, petitioners believe the Mayor is without power:

a. under the City Charter and
b. under the assumed duty the City owes the State and its citizens, nor
c. under the requirements of the Syracuse public art ordinance and the Syracuse public art plan, nor
d. under the requirements of the Landmark Preservation statutes,

to effect his baleful intentions.

That lawsuit was just decided by a Judge, and the monument stays where it is. Syracuse.com reports:

The statue of Christopher Columbus in downtown Syracuse must stay where it is, a judge ruled today. State Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri ordered Syracuse and Mayor Ben Walsh not to remove the statue as Walsh had planned.

The Columbus Monument Corp. and other supporters of the statue sued in May, hoping to stop the city from removing the statue in response to criticisms that Columbus contributed to slavery and oppression. Neri agreed with the group’s argument that Walsh does not have the legal authority to remove the statue….

Walsh said the city will appeal Neri’s decision.

“The City of Syracuse will appeal the decision and looks forward to presenting its position to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division,” the mayor said in a prepared statement.

You can read the court Decision, which granted relief in part as follows:

ORDERED, that the Verified Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks relief pursuant to
CPLR §7803(1) and (3) mandating that the City of Syracuse maintain the Monument in its present
form, as commanded by law,including the trust provisions of Section 8-111 of the City Charter to
avoid waste and the City’s assumed duty to do so; and it is further

ORDERED, that the Verified Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks a declaratory
judgment pursuant to CPLR §3001 that the Respondents have no legal right to alter the piece of
art known as the Christopher Columbus Monument or remove same or any part of it from its
present place on St. Mary’s Circle, commonly known as Columbus Circle, in the City of Syracuse;
and it is further

ORDERED, that the Verified Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks a declaratory
judgment pursuant to CPLR §3001 that Respondent Mayor’s stated goal to alter the Monument
by removing the statuary violates the City’s duty to protect the Monument as well as Section 8-
111 of the City Charter; and it is further

ORDERED, that the Verified Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks a declaratory
judgment pursuant to CPLR §3001 that the Monument has not exceeded its useful life; and it is
further

ORDERED, that the Verified Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks a declaratory
judgment pursuant to CPLR §3001 that the purported Termination of Protective Covenant filed in
the Onondaga County Clerk’s Office on March 22, 2021 is null and void and the Onondaga County
Clerk is directed to expunge the document from her records; and it is further

ORDERED, that the Verified Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks a declaratory
judgment pursuant to CPLR §3001 that the Petitioners are third-party beneficiaries of the City’s
obligation to preserve and maintain the Monument for its useful life ….

It took the City about an hour to file a Notice of Appeal.

Some in the community continue to protest to remove the statue:

A judge’s ruling on Friday sided with those who oppose relocating the Christopher Columbus statue in Syracuse, and now both sides are gearing up for a continued legal battle.

On Monday, about 70 people rallied for the statue’s removal.

“I was heartbroken to see a symbol of division remain in our center,” Sarah Nahtar, a religious and environmental studies student, said outside the Onondaga County Courthouse. “As a young mother and as students, graduate students, I want to see change. I want to see a better future and a city for everyone.”

For those gathered, that future wouldn’t include the European explorer, whose history is coming under more scrutiny with time.

“I and neighbors of the Onondaga Nation don’t want this statue in any sort of public setting,” said Andy Mager, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation organizer. “We don’t put up statues of just anybody. People have been calling for this for decades, a real heightened call in the last several years, and it’s time for the statute to go.”

The Columbus Monument Corporation, the group seeking to preserve the statue, issued the following statement:

A STATEMENT FROM THE COLUMBUS MONUMENT CORPORATION

We are pleased with the Court’s decision to preserve the historic Columbus Monument as is, in its original location, where it was dedicated by over 40,000 Onondaga County citizens in 1934. We appreciate the Court’s careful consideration of our petition requesting that this important public art be preserved. The decision reflects the extent to which the court heard and analyzed the arguments of all parties.

The court confirmed the right of the petitioners to have standing to commence this action. Some of the petitioners actually contributed money towards the monument’s restoration over twenty years ago. The Court accepted our arguments and ordered that:

1. The City is required to maintain the Monument as required by law and the trust provisions of the City Charter;

2. The Columbus Monument is both a piece of recognized public art under the City’s Code of Ordinances that the City has no right to alter or remove any part of it from its place on St. Mary’s Circle; and

3. The Monument has not exceeded its useful life.

In order to have the right to assert our claims we have not only to demonstrate an illegal act, but also a “need to demonstrate bad faith”. The Court determined that the Mayor actually exceeded his authority and that his action was “an overreach and an exemplar of bad faith”.

The Court’s decision confirmed that the City had entered into a contract to maintain and preserve the monument for its useful life. At the Mayor’s direction, the City Corporation Counsel’s office represented to the State that the City “made the decision to remove the Columbus Statue and modify Columbus Circle” to get around the City’s obligation to maintain the Columbus Monument for its useful life. The Court found those actions to be both “disingenuous” and “disheartening”.

The decision also ordered that the misrepresented agreement that the City attempted to file to hide its obligation to maintain the monument for its useful life is null and void and the Court ordered the Onondaga County Clerk to expunge the document from the records.

It remains the position of the Columbus Monument Corporation and the other petitioners that changes by certain community leaders about their interpretation, sensitivity and historical perspective is not a basis to destroy or remove the Columbus Monument.

We reaffirm our openness to work with the community to expand St. Mary’s Circle with additional perspectives and representations.

With the Court’s resolution of this issue, it is time for everyone to come back together and work collectively on an additive approach to Syracuse public art, celebrating our city’s other rich ethnic heritages. This has been the approach taken in New York City. The Columbus Monument Corporation would be pleased to take a lead role in that initiative.

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Comments

Tar. Feathers. Combine, add politicians. Stir well.

Antifundamentalist | March 30, 2022 at 9:38 pm

If the leftists of Syracuse want the statue removed, there are appropriate, legal, ways to petition to do so. The problem (for them) is,it takes time and effort, and ultimately they could still be told No. So they’d rather ignor the laws and do whatever they want, and to Hades with those who object to their tyranny. Seems to be a pattern.

Mayor Walsh sounds like a craven wimp.

AntiFa mob to storm the city, as mayor orders police to ‘stand down,’ while mob vandalizes the statue beyond ‘useful life’, negating judge’s opinion, thereby necessitating removal.

And just in case of any arrests, Soros prosecutor will refuse to prosecute.

Leftists declare ‘overton window’ still the undisputed champ.

‘Murica!

Recently finished reading about the Conquistadors by historian Fernando Cervantes. The natives of The New World were likely to be serfs, slaves, sacrifices…or super. The Spanish may have been more efficient but never as bloody as the locals. But then it was WHITE men killing …dismissing native on native killing to justify the purge of Columbus.

Lilliputians trying to tear down a statue of Gulliver.
These scum aren’t worthy to kiss the bottom of Columbus’ feet.

    Milhouse in reply to Tom Orrow. | March 31, 2022 at 1:05 am

    I don’t know about that. I mean they are scum, so it’s entirely possible they aren’t worthy to kiss the bottoms of anyone’s feet, but what was so great about Columbus?

    At the end of the day he was a crackpot, with a geographical theory that was completely wrong, and all his critics were correct. They said he was crazy, because he was. They said you couldn’t sail west from Spain and make it all the way to India without running out of food and water, or being lost to a storm, because the world is about 25,000 miles around, it’s about 7,000 miles from Spain to India going east, so it must be about 18,000 miles going west.

    Columbus insisted they were all wrong, the earth is only about 16,000 miles around, so India is a mere 9,000 miles west of Spain. Furthermore, he was convinced that Japan was just over the horizon from the Canary Islands. Therefore getting to India would be a cinch.

    He was completely wrong and everyone else was completely right, and he’d have been forgotten as just another crackpot, but he turned out to be the luckiest crackpot in history, because just as his men had given up on sighting Japan and were about to mutiny and turn back, they saw what is now the Dominican Republic instead. Because everyone knew you couldn’t sail the vast ocean, nobody had ever tried, and thus nobody knew that there was this great big continent in the middle of it.

    That makes him lucky, not great. Still better than BLM scum, but not more so than any lunatic is.

      Treguard in reply to Milhouse. | March 31, 2022 at 1:28 am

      Nothing Milhouse said is wrong.

      But I’d like to say what makes Columbus great is in fact, how he *actually* treated the natives. He didn’t enslave them, he traded with them and declared them Citizens of Spain (something that would be solidified by Queen Isabella when he returned with one of them).

      As a reminder, he was actually arrested for being *too nice to the natives* compared to his own sailors.

      Some people have Greatness thrust upon them.

      scooterjay in reply to Milhouse. | March 31, 2022 at 5:10 am

      Yeah, who cares about Columbus?

      I’m not so sure of your level of common sense.

So Progressives will have no problem when we tear down RBG’s statue that Congress just approved?? We don’t like Baby Killers, and she represents them…so it offends me to see her idolized.

Syracuse population : 148,620
Syracuse Metro: 662,057
Protesters: 70
Once again A vocal minority in concert with a radical woke city administration attempts to dorce its will on the majority

Lucifer Morningstar | March 31, 2022 at 9:47 am

“I and neighbors of the Onondaga Nation don’t want this statue in any sort of public setting,” said Andy Mager, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation organizer. “We don’t put up statues of just anybody. People have been calling for this for decades, a real heightened call in the last several years, and it’s time for the statute to go.”

But this isn’t a statue of “just anybody” it’s a statue of the person who discovered the New World. And if you don’t like that then go back to the reservation where you can insulate yourself from any statue, art, history or anything else that might offend your native american sensibilities and fee fees.

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