Amid ongoing protests, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered two statues of Christopher Columbus to be taken down in the middle of the night this week.
At around 2 a.m. early Friday, two cranes showed up to take the statue located in Grant Park, according to Fox 32. The statue was official removed at about 3 a.m.
#BREAKING: Chicago’s Columbus statue in Grant Park is getting removed overnight by the city now @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/apis1VzCwZ
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) July 24, 2020
In a statement, the mayor’s office said the statue was “temporarily removed … until further notice,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
“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 statement said. “In addition, our public safety resources must be concentrated where they are most needed throughout the city, and particularly in our South and West Side communities.”
Protesters attempted to take down the statue themselves last week, which resulted in a clash between law enforcement and violent protesters. The protests continued throughout Thursday night and into Friday morning, with crowds gathered outside of Lightfoot’s home.
Italian residents near Grant Park had defended the statue, arguing that it was an important part of their heritage and a significant reminder to immigrants everywhere that starting a new life in the U.S. is possible.
“I had just moved in in October of 1966, and they had a big kind of celebration here,” said Wade Freeman, who was living near Grant Park when the statue of Columbus was first built. “It’s kind of a big deal to see this go away.”
Pasquale Gianni, with the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, called Lightfoot’s removal of the statue “disheartening.”
“These are where the statues belong, in their communities,” he said.