The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition (“IAOVC”), a nationwide coalition of anti-bias activists, has filed suit in Federal U.S. District Court against the Township of West Orange seeking an injunction to have the Christopher Columbus statue returned to its original location.
The IAOVC has been working with numerous groups and individuals across the country opposing the destruction or removal of Columbus statues and monuments. Rallies, petitions, email and phone campaigns have been launched opposing the recent widespread attacks on Columbus statues and monuments. In some cases, these were effective in protecting Columbus statues and monuments. In others, such as West Orange, such campaigns were ignored by local officials, and statues were removed.
“We tried everything we could to stop local officials from removing the Columbus statues, stated Dr. Manny Alfano, President and Founder of IAOVC. “When they turned a deaf ear to our pleas, we were forced to defend our heritage by going to federal court.”
In the wake of civil unrest over the last several months, in addition to other historical figures, Columbus statues and monuments have been vandalized, beheaded, toppled or destroyed. These criminal acts were justified by the perpetrators based on the popular narrative claiming that Columbus was responsible for a wide array of atrocities. Such claims have been disputed and debunked by reputable sources and accurate historical context.
“Columbus is an iconic and significant symbol to Italian Americans, and actually, all Americans,” stated Andre DiMino, IAOVC Executive Board Member. “He changed world history by uniting the continents. And, Columbus statues were dedicated as an apology and atonement for the brutal denigration and discrimination endured by Italian Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Attacking Columbus is an attack on Italian Americans.”
“This suit against West Orange serves as a warning to elected officials in every town, city and state that we will not stand by as they consider removing an important symbol of our heritage,” concluded Alfano.
IAOVC’s sole focus and objective is to fight bias, stereotyping and discrimination against Italian Americans. It is the only national Italian American organization with this exclusive mandate. IAOVC’s stated mission is to “…secure the rightful representation of Americans of
Italian origin and of all peoples whose paths toward social equality have been impeded. The powers of intellect, wisdom and due process of law will be brought to bear on all inequities.”
Learn more about The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition (“IAOVC”) at iaovc.org.