Downtown protest calls for removal of Christopher Columbus statue

People gather outside of City Hall in downtown Columbus to ask for the statue of Christopher Columbus to be taken down (Molly Brewer/WBNS 10-TV)

COLUMBUS -- Protesters took to City Hall today urging leaders to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus, which they say is a symbol of white supremacy.

The organization, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) led the event with speakers, music and several moments of silence in solidarity with Charlottesville.

“We just hope for change,” said Stacey Little, representing the People’s Justice Project.

“Columbus being the city that it is, it’s supposed to be so progressive, supposed to be so smart, should take this moment and this time to do what’s right,” Little said.

She’d like to see the statue removed but Little and others there told 10TV the cause is bigger than the statues.

“I think it gets to the heart of what our nation is founded on, how we’re going forward, how we’re going to treat our citizens and I think change needs to come and it’s groups of people like this on all walks of life talking and pulling that together,” said Zach Ballew, who drove to Columbus from Athens with his 11-year-old daughter, Magnolia.

“We’re here because we believe that right now our country is having a conversation that is a long time coming and I think this is kind of a point where we’re really talking about oppression and issues that affect a lot of people,” Ballew said.

Mayor Andrew Ginther also released a statement via email regarding the protest.

“I support the removal of monuments celebrating the Confederacy, but I would urge people to remember that the disturbing and tragic events that unfolded in Charlottesville were not about statues, but about persistent racism in our country. There are many perspectives on the Christopher Columbus statue, but let’s not be distracted from the need to address the real problem: the racial divide in our community and across the country.”