Committee recommends keeping Columbus statues permanently set aside

CHICAGO — The Lightfoot Administration’s Monuments Committee has recommended permanent storage of the two statues of Christopher Columbus once located in Grant and Arrigo Parks, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In 2020, the statues were removed after violent protests following the murder of George Floyd.

Now the 30-member panel has recommended keeping the Columbus statues permanently out of the way and removing the Balbo monument.

“I ask (Lightfoot) to reject it”, 38th Ward Ald. says Nick Sposato.

38th Ald Ward. Nick Sposato, who was on the committee, said he didn’t know if a final decision had yet been made. But he and other Italian Americans said Mayor Lightfoot had promised them to find a compromise solution.

“So you had 3 of us who weren’t history revisionists. The other 27 were,” he said. “I think it was a biased committee.”

Proponents of the removal point to Columbus’ brutal treatment of Native Americans.

But Italian Americans point the finger at other researchers who say the legendary explorer has a bad reputation.

“The removal of the Columbus statues and the impending removal of the Balbo Monument hurt us deeply,” said Ron Onesti of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. “And an insult to our heritage and our contributions to this great city.”

The mayor’s office sent the following statement.

“The City’s efforts throughout this process have not focused on a single statue or mural, but on creating a formal process that will reflect our values ​​and enhance our rich history and diversity. Since the Chicago Monuments Project launched, the project has engaged thousands of people through the website — and dozens of virtual and in-person neighborhood programs have been organized by committee members, national experts and local community organizations. There will be a report of the committee’s findings once it is finalized. Ensuring that our city’s symbols represent inclusiveness and elevate Chicago’s stories remains paramount.

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