ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Christopher Columbus statue in a St. Louis park is being called into question about a year after a Confederate monument was removed from another park in the city.

A commission is being formed to review whether the 130-year-old statue belongs in Tower Grove Park, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . The panel will include historians, art experts, and representatives of Italian-Americans and Native Americans in St. Louis, said David Lauber, the park's director of development.

"We've been aware in recent years that this is an issue," Lauber said. "We know that it's time to have a discussion."

The commission will eventually make long-term recommendations regarding the statue's future to the park's Board of Commissioners.

The statue has been repeatedly covered with graffiti over the last two years, with words including "murderer" and "Black Lives Matter" being painted onto the base. The Tower Grove Park statue is just one of several Columbus monuments across the U.S. that have been vandalized as the discussion over memorials honoring controversial historical figures has intensified.

Supporters have said the statue represents a part of American history, while opponents have argued it's a reminder of oppression and shouldn't be featured in a public space.

St. Louis resident Chris Singer is organizing a public forum Saturday for residents to discuss why they believe the statue should be removed.

"I know that it had a history of being targeted with vandalism, and I knew from the Confederate statue (in Forest Park) being an issue also, that there's enough momentum," Singer said. "I thought it was a good time to take it to the public."

Park founder Henry Shaw commissioned artist Ferdinand von Miller to create the statute. It's been a fixture in the park since it was dedicated in 1886.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,