Lightfoot orders removal of statues of Christopher Columbus, alderman says

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called for the removal of two monuments to Christopher Columbus after violent clashes between police and protesters broke out last week when activists attempted to tear down a statue of the Italian explorer in Grant Park.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) told the Chicago Sun-Times late Thursday that Lightfoot made “a unilateral decision” to take down that statue and another located in Arrigo Park on the Near West Side. Hopkins said the intention was to have them removed Thursday night.

“At this hour, there is discussion about postponing the removal, but the mayor has not indicated any reversal of her decision,” he said.

The mayor’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests seeking comment.

The Chicago Tribune first reported that Lightfoot planned to have the Grant Park statue removed as early as Thursday night.

When the news broke, over a thousand protesters who were rallying near Lightfoot’s Logan Square home rejoiced. Soon after, an organizer led the crowd in a celebratory chant.

“Thank you for the statue, now defund CPD,” the crowd bellowed.

The mayor’s decision follows a standoff last Friday in Grant Park, which devolved into chaos when protesters attempted to take down that statue. Like other monuments to colonialism, the Columbus statue has come under increased scrutiny amid the nationwide reckoning over racial injustice.

While officers guarded the statue, some protesters were seen lobbing firecrackers and other projectiles in their direction and guarding themselves with umbrellas. Amid the chaos, officers swung batons and used pepper spray to quell the crowd.

Police later reported that 12 people were arrested and 18 others were hurt during the incident. On Monday, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said 49 officers were injured, with 18 requiring hospitalization.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, reported Sunday that the agency had received over 20 complaints related to the protest.

Though Lightfoot has called reports of excessive force “unacceptable” and vowed they would be investigated, she also cast blame on a small group of “vigilantes” who she said “came for a fight.” On Monday, she faulted that contingent for “hijacking” the demonstration and throwing frozen water bottles and other objects at officers.

“That’s not peaceful protest,” she said. “That’s anarchy.”

26-Delivered

via Chicago Sun-Times

July 23, 2020 at 10:35PM

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