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Some Members Of Italian-American Community Want Columbus Statues Put Back On Display

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some members of Chicago's Italian-American community say it's time to return the Christopher Columbus statues that were removed.

They held a news conference in Grant Park on Sunday with a message for Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

"Put the statues back, because it's history. It's part of Chicago," said Frank Coconate of the group Hands Off Christopher Columbus. "We're on Columbus Drive right now in front of what used to be the Columbus statue, and there is no reason – no reason – that there can't be dialogue, and we can discuss putting these statues back."

The Columbus statues in Grant and Arrigo parks were removed late on the night of Thursday, July 23. the mayor's office said the statues were "temporarily removed ... until further notice."

"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. 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," the mayor's office said in a statement the following day. "Over the coming days, Mayor Lightfoot and the City will be announcing a formal process to assess each of the monuments, memorials, and murals across Chicago's communities, and develop a framework for creating a public dialogue to determine how we elevate our city's history and diversity."

A third Columbus statue at 93rd Street and Exchange Avenue in South Chicago was removed about a week later.

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