Christopher Columbus statues taken down in Chicago

(Photo: Voice of America)

Two statues of Christopher Columbus that stood in Chicago parks were taken down early Friday at the direction of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Crews used a large crane to remove the statue in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park from its pedestal. A small crowd cheered and passing cars honked as the statue came down about 3 am. The second statue was removed about 5:30 am Friday from Arrigo Park in Chicago’s Little Italy neighbourhood.

In a statement issued after the statues were taken down, the Democratic mayor’s office said they were being “temporarily removed … until further notice.” It said the removals were “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.”

Plans to remove the Grant Park statue were first reported Thursday night by the Chicago Tribune and the removal followed hours of vocal confrontations between opponents and supporters of the statue. On July 17, protesters had clashed with police, who used batons to beat people and made arrests after they say protesters targeted them with fireworks, rocks and other items.