Chicago takes down Christopher Columbus statues to foster 'inclusive dialogue'

24 July 2020, 17:45

The Chicago mayor had Christopher Columbus statues removed from Chicago parks overnight
The Chicago mayor had Christopher Columbus statues removed from Chicago parks overnight. Picture: Getty

By Ewan Somerville

Two statues of Christopher Columbus have been "temporarily" taken down in Chicago.

A statue of the renowned Italian explorer in Chicago's Grant Park was removed early on Friday, a week after protesters trying to topple the monument clashed with police.

Hours later, a second statue of Columbus was also removed from Arrigo Park in Chicago's Little Italy neighbourhood.

The city’s Democrat mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the move “to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city’s symbols”.

The controversial figures were removed following "consultation with various stakeholders”, a statement added.

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Attempts to topple Columbus statue in Chicago prompted clashes with police
Attempts to topple Columbus statue in Chicago prompted clashes with police. Picture: Getty

Stefan Cuevas-Caizaguano, a resident watching the removal, told the Chicago Sun-Times: “This statue coming down is because of the effort of Black and Indigenous activists who know the true history of Columbus and what he represents."

A small crowd watched as crews used a large crane to remove the Grant Park statue from its plinth.

Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he would “surge” federal law enforcement officers to Chicago to crackdown on anti-racism protests sparked by the death of African American George Floyd, despite fierce objection from local leaders. 

The US President said he had “no choice but to get involved” in sending hundreds of officers to various Democrat-run cities because politicians “refused” to eradicate “heinous crimes of violence”.