Group stands guard to protect Columbus statue

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of people in South Philadelphia gathered Saturday in Marconi Plaza to protect the Christopher Columbus statue. It comes after a day of peaceful protests over racism in the city.

Video shows people carrying baseball bats while a few others carried guns. Dozens of people were still standing guard near the statue Saturday night, but at one point, there were about 100 people there.

Their efforts, to spare the statue from being torn down. Many say they’ll remain at the plaza all night to guard the statue and want to send a message to Mayor Jim Kenney they do not want the statue removed.

(Credit: CBS3)

This comes 12 days after a similar scene took place outside of the police’s 26th District headquarters in Fishtown on June 1 when a group of residents armed with weapons was allowed to roam the neighborhood past the citywide curfew. Kenney and other city officials condemned the Fishtown group on June 2.

“We understand a community’s desire to protect their neighborhood and if they want to do that in peace, we would allow it. But armed vigilantism will not be tolerated moving forward,” Kenney said on June 2.

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There have been increased calls for the removal of Confederate and other controversial monuments around the country, with many of them being toppled by protesters or removed by city and state officials.

On Friday, the City of Wilmington removed its statue of Columbus as well as a statue of former Delaware Gov. Caesar Rodney, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and also owned slaves.

Camden officials removed the city’s statue of Columbus in Farnham Park on Thursday.

Philadelphia has another Columbus statue at Penn’s Landing.

CBS3’s Matt Petrillo and Dan Koob contributed to this report.