Philly cultural officer proposes guidelines to remove monuments

City crews covered up the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza last summer.
City crews covered up the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza last summer. Prior to that, the statue of Frank Rizzo in front of the Municipal Services Building was removed, in the wake of protests against racism. Photo credit Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphians who want to remove a statue or other historic memorial will soon have an online form to make the request and a commission to consider the outcome. That's according to a proposed process unveiled at a City Council hearing last week.

In the wake of last summer's protests against racism, sparked by the death of Gerorge Floyd, a statue of Frank Rizzo was removed from the Municipal Services Building in Center City. Meanwhile, a Christopher Columbus statue was covered up while a court decides if it can also go.

Anticipating that other memorials will come under scrutiny, Chief Cultural Officer Kelly Lee has drafted a plan to establish guidelines for removal, including solid evidence of behavior by the person honored that is not in line with city values and public support in the form of 300 signatures from neighbors of the memorial, whether it's a statue or simply a name on a street or recreation center.

Read the full plan below.

Lee said the plan would also encourage changes or additions rather than removal.

"It's not just, 'Do we keep it or remove it?' but for some of them, recontextualizing it to tell a more complete story that includes some of the things our history books do not include," Lee explained.

The mayor would appoint a Landmarks and Monuments Review Commission, which would consider whether to recommend change or removal. The Art and Historic Commissions would also have to approve.

Lee is asking for public input this month, before the plan is finalized. Philadelphians can send their input to arts@phila.gov.