Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded Friday to a new lawsuit that claims she defamed a former park district attorney with obscenities while discussing the previously removed Christopher Columbus statues in the city.
"I am aware of the lawsuit that has been filed by a former Chicago Park District employee," Lightfoot said in a statement. "While I will continue my practice of not commenting on the specific claims alleged in pending litigation, I feel compelled to state that the deeply offensive and ridiculous claims are wholly lacking in merit, and I welcome the opportunity to prove that fact in court. Furthermore, to be clear, I never have and never will harbor any animus toward Italians or Italian Americans."
George Smyrniotis, the park district's former attorney, said he was forced to resign after Lightfoot's alleged comments, according to the lawsuit.
The suit said that Symrniotis was negotiating with the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans to potentially bring the Columbus statue back for the parade in October 2021.
Lightfoot allegedly told Symrniotis the following:
"You make some kind of secret agreement with Italians, you are out there measuring d**** with the Italians, see whose got the bigger d***. You are out there stroking your d*** over the Columbus statue."
When asked about the lawsuit after an event Thursday, Lightfoot did not answer any questions.
"My d*** is bigger than yours and the Italians. I have the biggest d*** in Chicago," Lightfoot allegedly told Symrniotis, according to the lawsuit.
Ron Onesti, head of the Italian-American group, called the allegations against Chicago's mayor "disturbing."
"They are just allegations and nothing is proven yet, but just even that these types of statements are out there at all is truly disturbing," Onesti said.
Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa said the claims could have an impact on the city attracting leadership. He is asking for a full investigation into the case.
In July 2020, three statues of Christopher Columbus were removed due to "an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city's symbols," the mayor's office said in a statement at the time.
One year later, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans filed a lawsuit seeking to force the Chicago Park District to return a Christopher Columbus statue to its pedestal in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood.
The lawsuit claimed the removal of the Columbus monument in Little Italy violates a nearly 50-year-old agreement the group has with the park district. Onesti had said the agreement says any alterations of the statue or plaza must have the written consent of the Columbus Statue Committee, a precursor to his organization.