PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Throughout the day on Monday, people came by the Christopher Columbus statue in South Philadelphia with their phones.
They wanted to take photos of the newly un-boxed statue, which has spent the past two years covered up by plywood painted in red, green and white: the colors of the Italian flag.
"If there was any neighborhood for this statue to be, it's right here," said Jennifer Formiglia Jackson, a lifelong resident of South Philadelphia. "It's very Italian down here."
Last week, a Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania three-judge panel ruled that the wooden box must be removed.
It was removed Sunday night.
"A judge ordered the box removed and we removed the box based on the order," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
Kenney's administration has pushed for the removal of the statue, and the city's Historical Commission agreed. The worry over Columbus' controversial legacy caused the city to cover it up in June 2020 as racial injustice protests took place across Philadelphia.
"The box went up to keep the statue safe and to keep people from each other's throats while they were down there fighting each other," said Kenney.
But a number of residents of the area disagreed with the decision.
"Why would you take him away," asked Maria Cerasia of the Columbus statue. "He didn't do anything. He's the one who discovered America, right?"
But members of Pennsylvania's Indigenous community disagree.
"He was not the first person there. Our people and other Indigenous people had been there since time and memorial," said Adam Waterbear DePaul, Chief of Education and Tribal Storykeeper for the Lenape Tribe of Pennsylvania.
DePaul said his people are hurt by the decision to remove the box covering Columbus.
"What we were taught about Columbus growing up was wrong and we know that now," he said. "The dark side of Columbus. The genocide, the disease, the execution...It seems to me that Columbus is not the best person to celebrate."
The City of Philadelphia is weighing what to do next. Officials with the city have four options moving forward: they can decide to appeal the court's decision, file a whole new petition, ask to re-argue the current petition or leave the statue standing.
"We'll keep and eye on it," said Kenney.
The city has 30 days to appeal the court's decision. Attorneys don't have a specific timeline on whether to file a new petition, but while they weigh their options, the city is legally obligated to protect the controversial statue.