Italian American group wants Columbus statues gone forever

A Chicago Italian-American group on Monday called for the permanent removal of statues of Christopher Columbus from the city.

Italian American Heritage Society of Chicago president Gabriel Piemonte says Columbus as a symbol is dead and Italian Americans do not want it.

“As Italian Americans, we condemn the honoring of Columbus — the murderer, mutilator and enslaver — and wish to convey loud and clear that there are members of our community who do not see this figure as a positive presence in our city,” Piemonte said.

However, Lissa Druss of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans contends the Columbus statues should be returned to their original places.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the removal of three statues of Columbus last month following violent protests at one statue in Grant Park and the painting of graffiti at another in the Little Italy neighborhood. City officials say the third statue removed was dedicated in 1892, and is believed to be Chicago’s first of Columbus. It escaped the attention of demonstrators because of its location in the South Chicago neighborhood.

Lightfoot has said the removal of the statues was temporary, and the city will "assess such works in partnership with our local communities."