National Columbus Education Foundation Praises Philadelphia Ruling

The National Columbus Education Foundation praises this past week’s decision by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick ruling that the Christopher Columbus Statue at Marconi’s Plaza can remain as a major victory for the Italian American community while it continues to fight to preserve the legacy of the famed explorer.

Judge Patrick’s ruling reverses a Sept. 29, 2020, decision by the Philadelphia Board of License and Inspection Review that upheld a July 24, 2020, decision by the Philadelphia Historical Commission to remove the statue.

In a seven-page ruling, Judge Patrick said last year’s decision to remove the statue was not supported by law and was based on insufficient evidence. She also wrote that the city failed to provide an adequate opportunity for public input about the future of the statue.

“It is baffling to this court as to how the City of Philadelphia wants to remove the Statue without any legal basis,” she wrote. “The city’s entire argument and case is devoid of any legal foundation.”

The suit was brought by Friends of Marconi Plaza; Rich Cedrone, the group’s president; and Joseph Q. Mirarchi, a South Philadelphia resident. The plaintiffs were represented by Attorney George Bochetto, who is also handling a federal lawsuit filed in Philadelphia on behalf of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations (COPOMIAO).

The federal lawsuit seeks to prevent the City of Philadelphia and its mayor, Jim Kenney, from abolishing Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day, as such an act would constitute discrimination against Italian Americans under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.