Early Friday morning, two statues of Christopher Columbus that stood in Chicago parks were taken down at the direction of liberal Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The removal follows a week after protesters tried toppling one of the monuments of the Italian explorer, ultimately clashing with police.
City crews used a large crane to remove the statue in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park from its pedestal. A small crowd cheered and passing cars honked as the statue came down about 3 a.m. The second statue was removed about 5:30 a.m. Friday from Arrigo Park in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood, according to AP.
WATCH ANOTHER STATUE FALL:
— ABC News (@ABC) July 24, 2020
In a statement issued after the statues were taken down, the Democratic mayor’s office said they were being “temporarily removed … until further notice.” It said the removals were “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,” the mayor’s office said in the statement, which said the statues were removed following “consultation with various stakeholders.”
Plans to remove the Grant Park statue were first reported Thursday night by the Chicago Tribune and the removal followed hours of vocal confrontations between opponents and supporters of the statue. On July 17, protesters had clashed with police, who used batons to beat people and made arrests after they say protesters targeted them with fireworks, rocks and other items.
Pasquale Gianni of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans said the mayor had told him before their removal that both statues would be moved and temporarily housed elsewhere for public safety reasons. “The Italian American community feels betrayed. The Mayor’s Office is giving into a vocal and destructive minority. This is not how the Democratic process is supposed to work,” he told WLS-TV.
Lightfoot and the city planned to announce a 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,” the mayor’s office added in its statement.
Then the protests continued outside her house. The “Logan Square Lockdown,” as it was called, remained peaceful and even jubilant at times with protesters dancing in the street and celebrating at the news that Lightfoot planned to order a statue of Christopher Columbus removed from Grant Park, FOX 32 in Chicago reported. There were no immediate reports of arrests, according to Fox News.
Watch the hundreds of protesters outside the mayor’s house:
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed to let feds into Chicago. So this is the scene outside her house tonight.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) July 24, 2020
The President “reached out to Mayor Lightfoot this evening to confirm that he plans to send federal resources to Chicago to supplement ongoing federal investigations pertaining to violent crime. The conversation was brief and straightforward,” the mayor’s office said a statement, according to the Sun-Times. “Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
“The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.”