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Lori Lightfoot Reverses, Removes Christopher Columbus Statues From Chicago Parks

Lori Lightfoot Reverses, Removes Christopher Columbus Statues From Chicago Parks
Activists stand at South Columbus Drive and East Roosevelt Road near the Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago on July 20, 2020. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Chicago removed two statues of Christopher Columbus during the early morning hours on Friday, in what Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot characterized as an attempt to reduce violence.
Lightfoot, who originally opposed any removal of Columbus, relented “in part to avoid another high-profile confrontation between police and protesters like the one that happened last week,” according to The Chicago Tribune. Crews removed Columbus statues from Grant Park at around 3 a.m. local time, and from Arrigo Park around 5:30 a.m.
A statement from the mayor’s office said the statues have been “temporarily removed … until further notice,” adding, “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 statement said. “In addition, our public safety resources must be concentrated where they are most needed throughout the city, and particularly in our South and West Side communities.”
At least four police officers were injured during a confrontation with protesters who were dangerously trying to topple the Columbus statue in Grant Park last week. The extremists threw artillery shell fireworks at the officers, who were not adequately equipped with protective gear. At least 20 complaints of police brutality were filed against them in turn, according to The Tribune.
The removal of the statues comes as Chicago has seen an explosion of violence in recent weeks, which prompted the city’s police union chief to request President Donald Trump for federal assistance to quell the chaos. In an open letter posted to the organization’s website last weekend, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara wrote:
Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here. I would be willing to sit down anytime and discuss ideas about how we can bring civility back to the streets of Chicago. These politicians are failing the good men and women of this city and the police department.
Lightfoot, who has forcefully criticized the actions of federal officers in Portland, Oregon, came to an agreement with Trump on Wedneday to allow more than 200 federal officers to assist the Chicago Police Department after a gang-related shooting outside a funeral home left 15 dead on Tuesday.
Columbus has been a recurring target for those who view the explorer who brought European civilization to the New World as an exploiter of indigenous peoples and a perpetrator of genocide.
Northwest Side Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, 33rd, watched the statue come down and posted footage and commentary on Twitter, writing, “It’s coming down because of the activism that has led to this moment. Indigenous, Black and Brown people have been fighting for so long to see this happen. It’s also a balancing act, the Mayor just accepted Federal Agents from Trump.”

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