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by Sharon Rondeau

Depiction of Christopher Columbus painted after his death; public domain.  “This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.”

(Jul. 17, 2020) — Minutes before 9:00 p.m. EDT/8:00 PM CDT Friday night, a group of protesters in Chicago’s Grant Park began attempts to pull down a statue of Christopher Columbus but were met with dozens of police officers resulting in what appeared to be heated confrontations.

ABC7 Chicago reported of the incident, “Protesters have spray-painted the statue, covered it with a sheet and tied ropes to it. It appears they tried to bring it down.” Further, the outlet wrote, “The rally planned for Black and Indigenous people began earlier in the evening at Buckingham Fountain. Many called for the defunding of the Chicago Police Department, saying the money should be invested in neighborhoods.”

Grant Park was the scene of the Obama campaign’s victory celebration on November 6, 2008, and Chicago is reportedly Obama’s chosen “home city.”

Statues and monuments across the country have been under attack since the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African-American man, while in the direct custody of a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, following an arrest.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death and is currently incarcerated.  Three officers who witnessed the fatal incident but failed to intervene have each been charged with lesser crimes.

Chicago’s WGN reported it “received many reports of officers being hit by fireworks and other items as they guarded the statue” and that officers used pepper spray to repel the protesters.

President Trump pledged to stop the take-down of monuments, statues and memorials erupting in various locations by reinforcing penalties stemming from a federal law against the desecration of veterans’ memorials which include up to a ten-year prison sentence.  In the case of Chicago’s Columbus statue, federal law would likely not apply.

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called out Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) as “derelict” in failing to quell the rising tide of violence in the city, which on Thursday took the life of a five-month-old.

In response, Lightfoot addressed McEnany as “Karen,” which may have been intended to contain racial overtones, and told McEnany to “Watch your mouth.”

Lightfoot told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Tuesday that the federal government has been unhelpful in failing to pass more restrictive national gun laws.

A second Chicago park has a statue of Columbus, who is often credited with “discovering America” in 1492.  There is also a “Columbus Drive” in the area.

According to Wikipedia, the Grant Park statue was erected in 1933 with money raised by the city’s Italian-American residents.

An editorial published last month about the statues’ presence in Chicago reported:

Here in Chicago, vandals recently defaced statues of Columbus, and anti-Columbus protesters squared off with Italian Americans who were determined to protect the statues as a matter of ethnic pride.

The Chicago Park District must step in and resolve the dispute. The statues are public property, located in public parks. It’s the park district’s responsibility to bring the two sides together.

The park was renamed in 1901 after civil war general and former President Ulysses S. Grant.

At a roundtable on Monday featuring positive stories involving law enforcement, Trump pledged to intervene in cities whose violence continues to rage after weeks of “protests” which have resulted in arson, property destruction, injury and death.

As of 10:00 p.m. EDT, the Columbus statue appeared to be standing.

Elsewhere in the nation, statues of Columbus have been vandalized, torn down, or removed voluntarily by city governments on the basis of preserving them.




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