Coit Tower's Columbus statue gets taken down

A statue honoring Christopher Columbus was removed from San Francisco's Coit Tower by city officials. 

The statue has been placed in storage, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, following an order by Mayor London Breed.

Opponents had said the Italian explorer didn't deserve such a prominent display, because of his treatment of the indigenous people he encountered in the Americas. 

San Francisco officials removed a statue of Christopher Columbus from the plaza in front of Coit Tower. (KTVU / KTVU FOX 2)

"At a time of great unrest and deep reflection by our country, we recognize the pain and oppression that Christopher Columbus represents to many," said a joint statement from Mayor London Breed and supervisors Peskin and Catherine Stefani. "We believe that through public art we can and should honor the heritage of all of our people, including our Italian-American community, but in doing so we should choose symbols that unify us."

Visitors to the park seemed glad it's gone.

"Not really a fan of Christopher Columbus. Really hope to get a better italian-american on the pedestal," said Matt Helmenstine.

A planned protest Friday was drawing online support for demonstrators to topple the 2 ton statue themselves. Someone could have gotten hurt.

The statue had already been defaced three times in recent protests, as Columbus to many has become synonymous with the brutality and enslavement of indigenous people.

RELATED: Vandals doused the statue with red paint on the eve of Columbus Day last year.

"African Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, we have all suffered under the perceptions that these statues uphold. And those perceptions are that we are inferior persons," says Bay Area social scientist V. Nenaji Jackson.  

The Arts and Recreation and Parks commissions will initiate a public process that decides how to use the now empty space at the city landmark, Peskin said. 

The 12-foot tall Columbus tribute had reportedly stood in the Coit Tower parking lot since 1957.