Christopher Columbus statues removed from Chicago’s Grant Park, Little Italy

News

CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) — Statues of Christopher Columbus have been taken down from both Grant Park and Arrigo Park in Little Italy early Friday, amid a plan by President Donald Trump to dispatch federal law enforcement agents to Chicago.

Crews used a large crane to remove the statue from its pedestal as a small crowd gathered to watch. The crowd cheered and passing cars honked as the statue came down about 3 a.m. Several work trucks were seen in the area, but it was unclear where the statue would be taken.

A second statue of Columbus was also removed about 5:30 a.m. Friday from Arrigo Park in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood.

The following statement was released from Mayor Lightfoot’s office regarding the Columbus statues:

The City of Chicago—at Mayor Lightfoot’s direction—has temporarily removed the
Christopher Columbus statues in Grant Park and Arrigo Park until further notice.
This action was taken after consultation with various stakeholders. It comes in
response to demonstrations that became unsafe for both protesters and police, as
well as efforts by individuals to independently pull the Grant Park statue down in an
extremely dangerous manner. This step 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. In addition, our public safety resources must be concentrated
where they are most needed throughout the city, and particularly in our South and
West Side communities.


Over the coming days, Mayor Lightfoot and the City will be announcing a formal
process to assess each of the monuments, memorials, and murals across Chicago’s
communities, and develop a framework for creating a public dialogue to determine
how we elevate our city’s history and diversity. As the Mayor has stated previously,
this is not about a single statue or mural, but how we create a platform to channel
our city’s dynamic civic energy to collaboratively, purposefully and peacefully
reflect our values as Chicagoans and uplift the stories of all of our diverse city’s
residents, particularly when it comes to the permanent memorialization of our
shared heritage.

MAYOR LIGHTFOOT’S PRESS OFFICE

The White House plan came after a protest over the statue led to police swinging batons and demonstrators hurling frozen water bottles, fireworks and other projectiles at officers. It also stemmed from a shooting during a funeral that wounded 15 people.

A collection of activist groups had filed suit Wednesday, seeking to block federal agents from interfering in or policing protests. State officials in Oregon had sued for similar requests following the arrival of federal law enforcement due to nearly two months of protests in Portland since the death of George Floyd.

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