Italian-American group suing City of New Haven for removing Christopher Columbus statue

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — An Italian-American group is suing the City of New Haven over the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue in Wooster Square Park, saying they can no longer enjoy the space.

“Every time I sit here, I now have to look at the discrimination, the continued discrimination against Italian-Americans,” Frances Calzetta, president of the American-Italian Women of Greater New Haven said.

The statue was removed in June 2020 when New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker (D) decided to take down the statue. Racial equality protests were held everywhere, and some of them targeted Columbus statues. Back then, Elicker said it was leaders in the Italian-American community who spearheaded the statue’s removal, but Calzetta said he only spoke to a few people.

“He blatantly chose another ethnic group over the Italian-Americans,” Calzetta said.

Now her group is suing the city for allegedly violating their civil rights.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker released the following statement Wednesday:

“This suit is without cause or merit. We will vigorously defend this case. The plaintiff, in bringing it, is draining city resources away from more pressing issues before the city. I have, and always will stand up for the city of New Haven as a place that celebrates our diversity and is welcoming to all.”

The city is looking at replacing the statue with one of an Italian immigrant family. Calzetta does not like the imagery.

“He is all-powerful,” Calzetta said. “He’s holding the little boy, and the two women are meek and mild and submissive. That is not the Italian-American immigrant, that is not the Italian-American woman.”

Calzetta said Columbus deserves to be back on the pedestal because modern teachings are wrong about how he treated Indigenous people.

“It’s quite different from the clichés, shall we say, that have been spread around,” Calzetta said. “He didn’t mistreat the Indians.”

Calzetta believes that this lawsuit is going to proceed through the courts, that they are going to win, and the statue of Columbus will go back up in the future.

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