Christopher Columbus statue debate heats up

- Even the possibility of the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle in Manhattan is sparking a passionate response among Italian Americans and others.

"Leave our statues alone," said actor and radio host Joe Piscopo, who joined a passionate pack of Italian Americans and others for a rally on the steps of City Hall.

Earlier this week, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito brought up the idea to remove the statue when asked about the mayor's planned commission to look at memorials, statues, and sculptures around the city that could be controversial.

Columbus is credited with the European discovery of the Americas. But was as a ruthless explorer who enslaved and murdered native peoples.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is Italian American, said at a mayoral debate that Italian Americans have been taught to be proud of Columbus but that there is a lot of to not be proud of as well.

A group called the American Indian Community House is in support of taking down the statue.

"The Columbus statue... is a symbol of 500 years of oppression over Native American people," the group said in a statement. "We view the removal as conciliatory and a gesture of goodwill."

But some other Native Americans disagree.

"Sure, a lot of our people got wiped out," Silver Dreaming-Wolf of Staten Island told Fox 5. "That statue is a reminder of it. Whether you hate it or love it, it's a reminder. It needs to be there to remind people."

Fox 5 stopped by Columbus Circle to ask a few New Yorkers what they thought. Keep Columbus standing or take him down? Here are some answers:

"Oh my god – no, no, no there's going to be riots! Absolutely not."

"It should stay -- it's part of history."

A representative with the mayor's office said right now the city has no plans to remove the statue. But the mayor's committee, which hasn't been formed yet, will consider that possibility.

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