After Newark removes Columbus statue, Italian group removes another
NEWARK — Shortly after city officials removed one statue of Christopher Columbus, another statue of the explorer was removed from the city by its owners.
A private crew removed the second statue Friday from Columbus Plaza on Bloomfield Avenue in front of St. Xavier Church.
That statue is owned by an Italian American weekly newspaper formerly run in Newark, now based out of West Orange.
Italian Tribune publisher Buddy Fortunato confirmed the statue belongs to them but did not elaborate on what the reason was when contacted by New Jersey 101.5.
Mayor Ras Baraka released a statement June 26 explaining why the city had removed its own statue.
"In keeping with the movement to remove symbols of oppression and white supremacy, we have decided to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Washington Park."
Baraka also said the safe removal by city work crews "should not be perceived as an insult to the Italian-American community. It is a statement against the barbarism, enslavement, and oppression that this explorer represents."
Joe Pacillo, a Newark native according to his Facebook profile, shared video of the Columbus Plaza statue being prepared for transport, already taken off its concrete base and laying on a flatbed truck.
Elsewhere, a Christopher Columbus monument is being removed in Atlantic City out of concern over vandalism, as reported by the Press of Atlantic City. The statue on Arctic Avenue at the base of the Atlantic City Expressway is maintained by the Casino Redevelopment Investment Authority.
New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission Chairman Robert DiBiase previously said to New Jersey 101.5 that "this has been an ongoing effort to remove Columbus from the history books," and with "justified protests" going on nationwide, "current flareups" against Columbus undermine the focus and message of movements for social justice.
Protesters in Camden on June 13 destroyed a Columbus statue as it was being removed from Farnham Park.
That same weekend, West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi announced that the township would be removing a Columbus monument from an intersection and replace it with a "more appropriate" message.
DiBiase said the commission has received calls and emails from various organizations around the state concerned by online petitions aimed at removing Columbus statues in both Jersey City and Parsippany-Troy Hills and renaming a middle school in Clifton.
“Regardless of the protesters' intentions, this desecration is demeaning, insulting and disrespectful to all Italian-Americans. Over time, Columbus has become symbolic of the Italian-American experience, heritage, and contributions to these United States,” UNICO National President Frank De Frank said in a written statement to New Jersey 101.5.
UNICO National is the country's largest Italian-American service organization, headquartered in Fairfield.
In 2018, the statue now removed from Camden was among at least seven of Christopher Columbus that were targets of vandalism around New Jersey, prompting an investigation by the state Office of Homeland Security.
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