Oct 11, 2021 - News

Chicago's Columbus statues still down

A crane removes a statue from the park.

Crews remove the Columbus statue in Grant Park in July, 2020. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

It's been 15 months since Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered crews to take down the Columbus statues in Chicago after protesters tried to tear them down themselves.

Why it matters: The statues became the focal point of protest and vandalism over Columbus' genocidal past as the entire country had a reckoning over historically racist statues and symbols.

  • Now, the Italian American community is demanding they are put back up.

What they're saying: The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA) tells Axios they are negotiating with the Chicago Park District over the future of the statues.

  • "This is definitely still a heated issue that we are working on daily," JCCIA's Ron Onesti tells Axios.

The intrigue: All of the focus has been on the statue in Grant Park, but it's the neighborhood statues of Columbus that Onesti wants back on display.

  • "The one in Arrigo Park has a very special connection to the families of the Italian Americans here in Chicago. The city didn't understand how important it was to the community," says Onesti.

The other side: "The city’s efforts throughout this process have not been about a single statue or mural, but about creating a formal process that will reflect our values and elevate our rich history and diversity," a spokesperson of Mayor Lightfoot tells us.

What's next: Even though President Biden federally recognized Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples' Day, the city of Chicago still celebrates Columbus Day. Today the annual parade is back, starting in the Loop at 1pm.

  • The JCCIA plans to hold a press conference afterwards to give updates on the negotiations. Check back here tomorrow for updates.

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