News Release, Kathy Szeliga

Baltimore, MD– Today, State Delegates and Italian-American Activists called on Governor Larry Hogan and Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young to preserve and protect statues and monuments erected to Christopher Columbus and the contributions of generations of Italian Americans have made to the city, state, and nation.

“The decision to take down statutes on public lands must be made by the public through a thoughtful process”, said Delegate Kathy Szeliga. “Vigilante groups cannot be permitted to pick and choose what stays and what goes. Any removal of public statues on public lands requires a public process with public input. It is important to take a wholesale look at what these statutes and monuments represent and establish a judicious process for that review. Until this process can be established we are asking the Governor and the Mayor to protect these statutes and monuments from vandalism, destruction, and removal.”

The request comes at a time when statues and monuments across the country are being vandalized and sometimes destroyed. Earlier this week, a bill was introduced in the Baltimore City Council to rededicate the Columbus obelisk at Herring Run to the victims of police brutality.

“You do not heal racial wounds and injustices by targeting another historic minority,” said Delegate Nino Mangione. “The statues honoring Christopher Columbus do so much more than honor one man. They recognize the thousands of Italian-Americans and their contributions to this city, our state, and this nation. You cannot use discrimination and prejudice tofightdiscrimination and prejudice.”

“Misinformation about Christopher Columbus abounds,” said John Pica, the chairman of the Columbus Day Commemoration and Italian Heritage Festival. “So much of the anti-Columbus rhetoric has its roots in an aggressive campaign employed by the Ku Klux Klan nearly 100 years ago as a means to attack and discredit Italian immigrants in the South, often because of the Italian community’s relationship with the African-American community. It is a travesty that similar campaigns of misinformation thrives today, now under the guise of social justice.”

“Those who come into a community to destroy and terrorize only serve to discredit legitimate activists,” said Delegate Mangione.  “The Italian community has rights too. These rights should not be diminished by people who have a limited view of history and a political agenda. The Mayor should act quickly to protect these monuments and uphold the law.”