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Mayor Lightfoot Added To Lawsuit Over Removal Of Christopher Columbus Statue In Little Italy

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot has now been added to a lawsuit over the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue in the Little Italy neighborhood.

The statue in Arrigo Park was taken down along with others around the city at the height of unrest during the summer of 2020.

the lawsuit was filed by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans who want the statue put back up. They say Mayor Lightfoot violated a park district contract by removing it.

"Through our discussions with the Park District, they made it very clear that their hands are tied because the mayor is pretty much calling the shots," said Ron Onesti, president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.

Onesti says the agreement with the Park District states any changes made to the statue must have written consent of the Columbus Statue Committee.

In a move that was characterized by the mayor as temporary at the time, the in July 2020 removed three statues of Columbus. In addition to the Arrigo Park statue, also removed were one in Grant Park, and one at 93rd Street and Exchange Avenue in South Chicago.

Days earlier, attempts to tear down the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park ended with violent clashes between protesters and police.

It is now up to the Chicago Monuments Project advisory panel to decide what to do with the city's public art.

The list of monuments goes well beyond the Columbus statues, and some of the ones the panel chose for review have drawn even broader pushback.

Among the other statues on the list are all five Chicago statues of Abraham Lincoln; the statues of Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin in Lincoln Park, the statue of George Washington in Washington Park; the William McKinley statue in McKinley Park; the Statue of the Republic replica commemorating the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park; the Fort Dearborn Massacre monument; and numerous statues, monuments, and other works that depict Native Americans.

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