Columbus Day: Italian-American group holds rally, calls for Chicago to return Christopher Columbus statues

CPS to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's annual Columbus Day parade is not happening this year due to the pandemic, but one group held a rally Monday anyway and wants the statues of Christopher Columbus returned.

Hundreds gathered for a "Proud and Positive" rally at Arrigo Park, with the event being hosted by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans Monday morning. The rally was followed by a car parade in Little Italy.

Several months ago, the city removed three Christopher Columbus statues, after large protests and riots erupted over his treatment of Indigenous people.

RELATED: Chicago Christopher Columbus statues in Grant Park, Little Italy removed by city; some aldermen blindsided, others applauding decision
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Chicago's two Christopher Columbus statues were taken down overnight, leaving opinion sharply divided among residents. THe mayor said they were removed for public safety reasons.

But some local Italian Americans say Columbus is a part of their history.

"There have been recent actions in an effort to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day," said Ron Onesti, vice president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. "We welcome Indigenous people. We want you to have your day. We will march with you arm-in-arm, celebrate with you, mourn with you. We just do not believe the day that celebrates your culture needs to come with it a price tag and the expense of our federal holiday."


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Some Chicagoans said they were glad to see the statues removed from Grant Park and Arrigo Park. For others, it was deeply painful.

Just days ago the committee and delivered a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office requesting the return of the removed statues. Mayor Lightfoot said she is working with the Italian community on a resolution.

"[We] will make a range of recommendations, not just on a single statue, but on ways in which we can bet do a better job, reflecting Chicago's history," Lightfoot said earlier this week.

WATCH: Crews remove Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park

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Crews remove a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park Friday morning.

RELATED: Mayor Lori Lightfoot doesn't plan to eliminate Columbus Day city holiday despite CPS decision to only honor Indigenous People's Day

As activists across the city and the nation condemned Columbus, Chicago Public Schools decided to drop his name from the October 12 holiday and now observe the day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

RELATED: State Rep. reintroduces legislation to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in Illinois

"It is not just about Columbus, it is part of our neighborhood where we grew up," said Carlo Vaniglia.

State lawmakers have also reintroduced legislation to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

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A group of Italian-Americans are rallying with calls to bring back the Christopher Columbus Statue in Grant Park.

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