Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the removal of the city’s two Christopher Columbus statues from Grant Park and Arrigo Park early Friday morning, following weeks of protests, vandalism and violent clashes with police.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the statues of Christopher Columbus removed from Chicago’s Grant and Arrigo parks overnight, saying they are "temporarily removed … until further notice" https://t.co/WpN0CWmrLF
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) July 24, 2020
The mayor called the removal “temporary” and said her decision “is about an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city’s symbols.”
Yet, Lightfoot said last month she didn’t believe the statue at Grant Park should be taken down.
Regardless, if there are going to be discussions on the fate of the statues, we want a seat at the table to deliver our case.
The mayor says the city needs to build monuments to prominent African-Americans and women, and we couldn’t agree more but we strongly feel those initiatives shouldn’t come at the expense of the Italian American heritage.
A tradition of pride and unity
Columbus Day has become synonymous with Italian Heritage Day, the time when we remember the sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents, and the contributions Italian Americans have made in the U.S.
The time-honored Columbus Day parades actually began in the late 1800s as Italian immigrants attempted to create a sense of self-esteem and dignity during a period where they were subjected to lynchings, bigotry, internment and prejudice throughout the country.
A movement forward
Columbus’s journey launched 500 years of immigration to America, attracting peoples from throughout the world seeking a better life for their families — this is the spirit we champion and are fighting to preserve, and this is what the Columbus statues stand for.
The Italian-American community has always supported the designation of an Indigenous Peoples Day as it is most rightly and most justly deserved. We respectfully suggest the day after Thanksgiving, or August 9th (the day the United Nations has designated as Indigenous Peoples Day throughout the world) to be considered as alternate options.
What we don’t support is the political agenda or criminal acts of those who want to rewrite history, and in the process, diminish our traditions by targeting the 15th century explorer.
Help the effort
Please email Mayor Lightfoot, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribute, and demand that the statues go back up: