Christopher Columbus

Push To Return Chicago's Columbus Statues Returns On Holiday Weekend

The statues were a point of contention over the summer, sparking both peaceful and violent protests in Grant Park

On Friday, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans hand delivered a letter to Chicago’s mayor, asking her to return the statues to their “rightful locations.”

The letter cites Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s statement regarding the fate of the statues over the summer, calling the removal of the statues “temporary.”

“We understood the mayor’s stance when she took those down to protect the men and woman that protect us in this city. We’re totally for that. That temporary time is up,” said JCCIA President Sergio Giangrande. “Mayor, we’re asking you to be a woman of your word and bring the statues back.”

The statues were a point of contention over the summer, sparking both peaceful and violent protests in Grant Park.

At least three Columbus statues were eventually removed in the city, including one in Little Italy’s Arrigo Park.

“The rightful return of the statues to their proper places would be a great point of joy for us and our community in celebrating an individual that’s represented the contributions of all of our people to this great land,” said JCCIA Sergeant at Arms Pasquale Gianni.

The mayor’s office didn’t have an immediate reply to the letter, but directed NBC 5 to her statements made during a press conference on Thursday.

Lightfoot said a committee is working with Italian Americans to decide the future of the statues and celebrations.

“[The committee] will make a range of recommendations, not just on a single statute, but on ways in which we can do a better job reflecting Chicago’s history,” said Lightfoot.

Meanwhile, 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa continues to work on legislation to remove controversial symbols around the city.

“What he did do is torture natives. What he did do is engage in human trafficking,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “I’ve spoken with many Italian Americans who do not want to be associated with Christopher Columbus including my colleague, Ald. Daniel La Spata.”

Ald. La Spata, of the city's 1st Ward, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

“Everybody has their own opinion and we feel very unfortunate that those feel against that,” Giangrande, the JCCIA president, said.

The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans plans to hold a peaceful rally Monday at 10 a.m. in Little Italy’s Arrigo Park to recognize Columbus Day. A car procession is planned afterward.

 “Columbus Day represents tradition. It’s actually much bigger than Columbus. It’s about celebrating all the wonders of our Italian Heritage,” said JCCIA Vice President Ron Onesti.

The Chicago Police Department told NBC 5 there aren’t plans for stepped up patrols as of Friday.

The city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications said it will continue to monitor any events that may pop up over the weekend.

Contact Us