'No glory for genocide': Chicago group protests Columbus Day Parade
CHICAGO - Protesters rallied Monday along the Columbus Day Parade route in Chicago, calling for an end to the celebration of Christopher Columbus.
Columbus Day commemorates Christopher Columbus’ historic exploration voyage to the Americas, though the holiday has seen a recent shift in observance to becoming Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is intentionally celebrated on Columbus Day in a call-out to the violence and harm Columbus and other explorers of the age brought about to the Americas. Native Americans have campaigned for years for local and national days in recognition of the country’s indigenous peoples, with last year being the first time a U.S. president marked the occasion.
While Indigenous Peoples’ Day is still gaining traction, Columbus Day is still observed federally.
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"It’s important to challenge the Columbus Day Parade in Chicago. Not all Italian-Americans want Columbus to be associated with their cultural heritage due to his role in coming to this land to steal land and resources and to enslave Indigenous people for the gain of European monarchies," said an unnamed Italian-American who participated in the downtown protest.
Protesters at Columbus Day Parade in Chicago, 2022 | Provided
In July 2020, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered two Columbus statues "temporarily" removed in the middle of the night from Grant and Arrigo parks, based on information that protests would erupt. A third Columbus statue remains standing near 92nd Street and South Chicago Avenue.
In August 2022, a city panel recommended Chicago permanently remove its three Christopher Columbus statues and the Balbo Monument in Burnham Park, and consider altering or removing nearly 40 other monuments.
It is not clear if the city will follow the recommendations of the report by the Chicago monuments project advisory committee.
Mayor Lightfoot formed that committee after widespread protests in 2020 and a violent clash with police when activists tried to topple the Columbus statue in Grant Park. Since then, the committee reviewed over 500 city monuments and is recommending that 41 of them either be removed, moved, replaced or altered to provide more context.
The report contained a "counterpoint" essay arguing for the importance of the Columbus statues and the Balbo statue.
The "monuments are not, nor were they intended to be, political statements," wrote committee member Sergio Giangrande, former president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, a group that urged the city to return the Columbus statues and provide security for them.
"It is senseless to try and make them into a political agenda," he wrote.
The city of Chicago acknowledges the holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day. Chicago Public Schools does as well.
Sun-Times Media Wire and FOX TV Digital Staff contributed to this report.