Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago has unilaterally decided to remove the historical statue of Christopher Columbus from Grant Park. The move was not announced and crews arrived to the park at 3AM to the remove it. A small crowd formed and the mob did not interfere. Crews also removed another statue of Columbus from Arrigo Park on Friday. The statue there was in the middle of a mostly Italian neighborhood.
Both statues were vandalized during riots in the city. The large statue in Grant Park was moments away from being torn down before the city’s police stepped in. There was a terrible scene while police struggled to maintain control of the area around the monument. Industrial fireworks, rocks, and frozen water bottles were thrown at police before a perimeter was established.
The decision to remove the statue is caving to the crowd. Historical monuments are reminders of our history and decisions about putting them up or taking them down should be made properly through petitions and votes. Destroying public property and attacking authorities who protect it is a once way road to lawlessness.
The Italian community has been betrayed by intolerant elements of the social justice movement. The Italian voyager who famously arrived on America’s East coast is being desecrated as a colonialist. History is often disputed but statues and monuments are meant for reflection. They serve as moments to discuss history and how we came to be, for better or worse.