Christopher Columbus could be next on the monuments chopping block.
The 76-foot structure honoring the explorer at Columbus Circle should be among the statues reviewed by the city for potential purging, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said on Monday.
She made the remarks while advocating for the removal of a different statue — of controversial Dr. J. Marion Sims — at 103rd street and 5th Avenue.
Sims has been criticized for conducting medical experiments on slaves without anesthesia, while Columbus has been both lauded as an explorer and reviled as a marauder.
“I would definitely encourage them to take a look at that one as well,” Mark-Viverito said when asked about the towering statue of Columbus — a gift from Italian Americans to the city in 1892.
“There obviously has been ongoing dialogue and debate in the Caribbean — particularly in Puerto Rico where I’m from — about this same conversation that there should be no monument or statue of Christopher Columbus based on what he signifies to the native population… [the] oppression and everything that he brought with him,” she added.
The question of whether Columbus, a hero to many Italians and Italian-Americans, should be included on a hit list of those who represent hate and division will be left to a task force that the mayor is working to assemble.
But even the mayor’s response to the controversial figure shows how tricky those efforts could become.
De Blasio has marched in the Columbus Day Parade despite criticism of the holiday based on the argument that it has morphed into a celebration of Italian heritage rather than a celebration of the man himself.
But the mayor, who has a strong affinity for his Italian roots, has also sought to make clear he’s no fan of the explorer.
“The historical figure of Columbus is complicated, to say the least,” de Blasio said before marching in the parade in 2013. “There’s some troubling things in his history.”
Asked about the Sims statue on Monday, de Blasio declined to offer his own opinion.
“I’m not going to get into the business of speaking to each specific situation because I want there to be an objective process,” he said at an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn. “[But] it obviously is one of the ones that will get very immediate attention because of the tremendous concerns about it.”
When he announced the 90-day task force on Twitter last week, however, Hizzoner did single out a monument for nixing: a sidewalk marker in downtown Manhattan for Nazi collaborator Henri Phillipe Petain.
On Monday, the mayor said he’s going to name members to the task force soon, and that their mission would be to come up with a “universal standard” for which individuals should be honored by the city going forward.
The task force will also make specific recommendations about which items on city property to remove.
“I’ll look at that and make decisions accordingly,” said de Blasio. “We’re going to look at all statues and monuments that in any way may suggest hate or division or racism, anti-Semitism — any kind of message that is against the values of New York City.”