Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has ordered the removal of two statues of Christopher Columbus to prevent further confrontation between the Chicago police and the protesters.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the statues were removed from Chicago’s Grant and Arrigo parks overnight. Lightfoot took to Twitter in a series of tweets to reveal that the statues would be taken down “until further notice.”
“We took this step in response to demonstrations that became unsafe for both protesters and police, and to efforts by individuals to independently pull the Grant Park statue down in an extremely dangerous manner,” Lightfoot tweeted.
She continued, “This step is an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city’s symbols. It also will allow us to focus public safety resources where they are most needed — particularly in our South and West Side communities.”
The crews arrived in Grant Park around 1 am on Friday (July 24) and began taking down the statue. A crowd of onlookers, who were across the street, cheered as the statue came down around 3 am. People who were driving by in their vehicles honked their horns in celebration. A few hours later, the Columbus statue in Arrigo Park was taken down as well.
Lightfoot also said that Chicago would announce “a formal process to assess the monuments, memorials and murals across Chicago’s communities, and develop a framework for a public dialogue to determine how we elevate our city’s history and diversity.”
While some people celebrated the statues being taken down, others opposed the action. Resident Pasquale Gianni said that taking the statues down robbed the Italian community of their culture and history.
“They’ve [neighborhood residents] been expressing a sense of deep sorrow that they can no longer walk their children to school and look over at the icon and the symbol that for their entire lives has meant so much to them,” Gianni told the outlet. “Through the contributions, the suffering, the blood, sweat and tears of their parents and grandparents who came here as immigrant peoples and saw Columbus as a beacon of hope, a symbol of coming to a new world in search of something new.”