The New York Post reports:
Italian-American leaders vowed Tuesday to fight “like never before” to prevent the city from removing statues of Christopher Columbus, a day after a top elected official called for monuments honoring the explorer to be included in a city review.
The leaders had assembled at Columbus Circle to protest a skit about Italian-Americans on “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year — but shifted their focus to a defense of Columbus after City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito questioned the propriety of honoring him.
“That will be a fight like never before seen. The Italian-American community will really mobilize and do anything possible to prevent that from happening,” said John Fratta, chair of the New York State Commission for Social Justice. “It is a slap in the face to the Italian-American community and we are not going to tolerate it.”
Mark-Viverito defended her position Tuesday, saying at a Harlem senior center that the 90-day review of city monuments — announced last week by Mayor de Blasio — needs to be thorough.
“[Columbus] is a controversial figure, and I know that some people may take offense to that. But for many of us who come from the Caribbean Islands, we see him as a controversial figure,” said Mark-Viverito, who was born in Puerto Rico.
Brooklyn Council member Jumaane Williams went further, saying he supports long-running efforts to remove the statue at Columbus Circle.