Chicago’s two Christopher Columbus statues were removed by the city early Friday morning under the cover of darkness.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered statues of the historic figure taken down in Grant and Arrigo parks, but her office said their removal was “temporary.”
“The city of Chicago — at Mayor Lightfoot’s direction — has temporarily removed the Christopher Columbus statues in Grant Park and Arrigo Park until further notice,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
“This action was taken after consultation with various stakeholders. It comes 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,” the statement continued.
“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. 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.”
The decision to take down the statues was made after activists targeted Lightfoot’s home Thursday night.
Police have the block Mayor Lightfoot lives on blocked off with a barricade and about 50+ officers. Wrightwood ans Kimbal are completely shut down now. #Chicago #ChicagoProtests pic.twitter.com/cRJRyx3Zo5
— Tyler LaRiviere (@TylerLaRiviere) July 24, 2020
Last week, a protest at the Grant Park statue became violent.
WMAQ-TV reported 49 Chicago police officers were injured during the melee at the statue.
Of those officers injured, 18 of them were hospitalized for their injuries and one officer suffered a broken eye socket.
The group of people responsible for the violence was attempting to topple the park’s Columbus statue, and one threw an “incendiary device or an explosive device” at officers, Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief Daniel O’Shea told WMAQ-TV.
O’Shea described the protest as “a riot situation.”
WBBM-TV reported the statue at Grant Park was taken down by the city at around 3 a.m. local time Friday as protests raged outside of Lightfoot’s home.
Marissa Parra with WBBM-TV shared a video of the Grant Park statue’s removal.
And just like that – by the cover of darkness – Chicago’s Columbus Statue in Grant Park is officially removed
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) July 24, 2020
Not long after, the Columbus statue at Arrigo Park in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood was removed by the city.
Ariel Parrella with WBBM-AM celebrated the removal of the statue in Little Italy.
— Ariel Parrella (@ArielParrella) July 24, 2020
That action drew criticism from opponents of the mayor.
…This is why an Antifa leader recently declared “we are winning.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi shrugged off the destruction of statues with “people will do what they do.” Now, Mayor Lightfoot is saving them the trouble of toppling statues. She will do it for them in a plea for peace.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) July 24, 2020
The Mayor’s naïveté is believing that it was ever about the statue. Had it not been the Columbus statue it would have been something else, and it will certainly be something else. What a stunning lack of leadership and resolve.
— Paul Vallas (@Paulvallas) July 24, 2020
Alderman Raymond Lopez criticized Lightfoot on Twitter for ordering the statues to be removed.
What has become of Chicago? We have a mayor forced into submission by anarchy & mob-rule? No more public process, official discourse, or on-the-record debate. The lesson learned is that if you want action from Lightfoot, show up en mass at her house & she will cave every time.
— Ald. Raymond Lopez (@RLopez15thWard) July 24, 2020
“What has become of Chicago?” Lopez wrote. “We have a mayor forced into submission by anarchy & mob-rule? No more public process, official discourse, or on-the-record debate. The lesson learned is that if you want action from Lightfoot, show up en mass at her house & she will cave every time.”
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