Jun. 30, 2020
HARRISBURG—Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) today asked Attorney General Josh Shapiro to prevent the city from removing the statue of Christopher Columbus at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia until the city reconstitutes the Fairmount Park Commission.
In a letter to Shapiro, White said that only the Fairmount Park Commission
has the authority, given to it by the state, to remove statuary from its parks. Mayor Jim Kenney’s decision to allow the Philadelphia Art Commission to make that decision is lawless.
“Setting aside, for a moment, the First Amendment implications and other issues associated with destroying and removing artwork, I believe it is imperative that the Fairmount Park Commission be reconstituted in order to exercise its statutory responsibilities, and to defend those statutory responsibilities from any other entity which seeks to usurp them.”
The city disbanded the Fairmount Park Commission, making it impossible for them to serve their statutory role.
“I would ask that you inform Philadelphia that it must reconstitute the Fairmount Park Commission as required by Pennsylvania law,” White wrote.
Commonwealth statutes from the mid-1800s established the Fairmount Park Commission and set the bounds of its authority.
“Those who wish the destruction or removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Fairmount Park seem willing to ignore Commonwealth law, protections afforded national origin in statutory law and the donative intent of those who paid for the statue,” White said. “It is important to know whether some are motivated to ‘erase’ American history.”
Representative Martina White
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster