• By The Financial District


Two statues of Christopher Columbus in Chicago have been removed by city authorities after protesters trying to topple one of the monuments to the Italian explorer clashed with police.

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 on Friday morning. The second statue was removed at about 5:30 am from Arrigo Park in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood, according to Euronews.

In a statement issued after the statues were taken down, the office of Democratic mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said they were being “temporarily removed ... until further notice.”

Statue of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid taken down

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.”

“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 mayor’s office said in the statement, which said the statues were removed following “consultation with various stakeholders.”

The statues' removal came after hundreds of protesters gathered on Thursday night near Lightfoot's home to call for defunding the Chicago Police Department. The crowd cheered when an activist used a megaphone to inform them that Lightfoot would be removing the Grant Park statue.

“Thank you for the statue, now defund CPD,” the protesters shouted after an organiser led the crowd in a celebratory chant, the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reported.