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North End state rep says Columbus statue a symbol of Italian heritage and North End persistence, so knock it off with the beheading

Headless statue in windless park. Photo by Rob C.

State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz says people need to look beyond Christopher Columbus's reputation as a cruel murderer of both natives and the Spaniards he led and consider the history of the North End and how the statue represents both some of the neighborhood's original Italian immigrants and the fight to keep the North End from becoming an overbuilt district of expensive condos.

In a Facebook post this afternoon, Michlewitz notes the city built the park in the 1960s, on the site of former wharf buildings, after a fight "by the North End people, who were at risk of watching their entire waterfront turn into development." He adds that vandalism is never the answer to make a case for change and that:

The statue was placed later on as a celebration of Italian heritage and was paid for by the families that surround the base of the statue. Some of those families were original North End immigrant families and their memory to this community will not be removed.

Mayor Walsh said today he's ordered the remainder of Columbus to be put in a warehouse while the city considers what to do about it following the overnight beheading. Michlewitz said that any discussion needs to be led by North End residents and the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park.

Michlewitz's complete statement:

Vandalism to private or public property is a completely wrong way to go about making a case for change, and that holds true on the vandalism that took place overnight at Columbus Park.

While Christopher Columbus has a complex history and symbolizes many different things to different people, there is a lot more to the history of the park then just the naming of it.

That park was built in the late 1960s under Mayor Kevin White and designed by his Parks Director Tony Forgione. It was fought for by the North End people, who were at risk of watching their entire waterfront turn into development.

The statue was placed later on as a celebration of Italian heritage and was paid for by the families that surround the base of the statue. Some of those families were original North End immigrant families and their memory to this community will not be removed.

If the City wants to have a dialogue about the future of the statue and the park, I ask that the North End Community and the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park are the ones that lead the process on how to move forward.

I ask that the celebration of Italian Heritage, which built this community to its strength of today, be the focus of any discussion.

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Comments

And put it on your lawn, you jerkoff.

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Voting closed 59

According to the article, that's sort of what happened:

The statue was placed later on as a celebration of Italian heritage and was paid for by the families that surround the base of the statue

Besides, even if he put the statue in his own lawn, vandals would destroy it anyway. Destroying private property isn't any different from destroying City of Boston property. That is one of the perils of anarchy.

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Voting closed 58

Let's back up for a second.

Suppose some jerk down the street from you had a giant statue of Adolf Hitler in their front yard. Suppose those pesky antifa kids kept vandalizing and defacing the statue, and this jerk whined about his private property. In my view a strong, functioning city government in the 21st century USA, with robust, independent executive and judicial branches, would decide the following:

1) Any monument to Nazism is morally outrageous and the statue must be removed from the person's lawn immediately. If the person's refuses to remove the statue, the city will confiscate and destroy it.

2) Prosecutorial discretion means the city won't file criminal charges against the vandals for the same reason police don't always arrest people for civil disobedience.

3) The person has a civil case against the vandals for defacing private property. I would have to think more about how much money they really deserve - personally I think we should amend the US constitution so that they go to prison for being a Nazi, but that's the subject of another rant.

Christopher Columbus was not much better than Adolf Hitler. Even his contemporaries described him as a genocidal butcher. The statue should be destroyed.

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Freedom of speech. If the statue conforms with zoning and is on private property the government shouldn’t be able to remove it do to being offensive.

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...that you aren't a huge fan of the 1st Amendment. This is content discrimination.

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The 1st Amendment has never been absolute. Grow up.

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I know the early days of Internet discussions are turning into ancient history, but did Godwin's Law expire yet?

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Your analogy is totally sophist. Apples to oranges. Columbus had nothing to do with Nazism. What a fallacy!

Italy and the world celebrate many Western cultures like the Romans. Julius Caesar had slaves as many noble men and women of antiquity. Matthew 22:21 Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." Romans 13:1 "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.”

Christianity does not reject people as respected persons because they had slaves.

Where is the list of famous people who had slaves?

Muhammed, Washington, Jefferson, Cincinnatus, Cleopatra, Cicero, Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, Jewish King David.... list is long. So why not be consistent?

Let’s celebrate Columbus because he through his daring and innovation rediscovered for the Glory of Triune God and Spain the land to be called America.

Of course those people of hate vandalizing statues of Columbus and Spanish Heros do not heed the Christian warning:

John 8:34 “Jesus answered them: Amen, amen I say unto you: that whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.“

The Truth Matters—-not lies and ignorance.

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I doubt anyone would care if a private citizen wants to commemorate someone. The issue is it being on public property. Public monuments are government endorsements of whatever is being commemorated.

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Was that a donation to the city, or do the families own the statue? If the latter, I think they can just sue without this grandstanding speech having to have occurred, no?

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...let him put the statue on his own lawn and let's find out, Mr. Owl.

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IMAGE(https://i.redd.it/oq7f3qezng351.jpg)

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Plenty to choose from. How about Puccini or Rossini? or Leonardo da Vinci? or even the Prince Spaghetti kid?

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I used to be on the 'save columbus' boat

but bleh. let the guy be forgotten about. Its all white washed history anyways.

And yeah there's tons of lovely Italians to be be proud off.

Just look at Madonna.

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Has a nice ring to it.

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The park will keep trying to shock you every few years and people will just kind of feel bad for it.

You will gentry try to remind the park that hearing Bedtime Stories on the grass and as the Ray of Light of the day fades is its best way to show itself.

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No bueno. The day should end not with that ray of light, but Like a Prayer before bedtime.

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And then a smaller park named Lady Gaga will copy all her ideas.

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I'd support putting up a statue of Anthony Martignetti

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Aka the Prince Spaghetti kid. I've known him personally for years (but haven't seen him in several years), from his days as a court officer at the Land Court. He is one of the nicest people I've known and a truly dedicated public servant.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Italian_Americans

Seriously. Let’s grow up and realize what knew as children was incomplete — and adjust our worldview accordingly.

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Guglielmo Marconi? Galileo Galilei?

I don’t understand these old-school Italian-Americans that insist on venerating a genocidal jackass.

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You'd think I'd want a Marconi statue, but he was kinda tight with Mussolini at the end.

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Racist policing and all that. Learn your history and you won't have to repeat the mistakes of the past.

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...of Sacco & Vanzetti. It’s on the wall outside the Rare Books & Manuscript offices at the BPL. A 1928 plaster bas relief by Gutzon Borglum (of Mt. Rushmore fame), it was meant as a study for a bronze panel to decorate a proposed Freedom House memorializing Sacco & Vanzetti. When those plans fizzled, several attempts were made to donate Borglum’s work to the city & state until Menino & Cellucci finally accepted it in 1997. Borglum had cast a final version of this sketch in bulletproof and axe-proof bronze alloy, but it languished at the foundry & then his studio until his death, after which his estate sold it. It is now considered lost, though photos exist.

Plans to cast the bas relief and install it in the North End by the year 2000 came to nothing. Three castings were made in 1979, however, one in bronze & two in aluminum. The bronze resides at the Borglum Center in South Dakota, the aluminum ones were destined for Brandeis and the Community Church in Boston.

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Galileo lived a good chunk of his life in Padua, Italy, which is also Bostons sister city / region in Italy.

If we're going to go with an international Italian icon go with that.

Otherwise, as an Italian American, I'd like the Boston Knights of Columbus to find a local Italian-American to celebrate and memorialize. Columbus need to go, let's celebrate OUR contributions to the city culture and history!

I get that a lot of people not with us anymore dedicated and funded the memorial. Work with their decedents, find a local beacon, I really find it hard to believe most wouldn't be happy to celebrate our local heritage over a rapist that worked for Spain and never set foot in the US.

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This is such an obvious solution, that I have to ask why this guy is even fighting this.

My guess is the opposition came from people of color (and those aligning themselves with them), and he(his followers) didn't like that. It's not as if the North End has been a place immune from dropping n-bombs.

Because how does one normally come to the conclusion of "Well yea, I've done lots of raping and tortured babies, but come on! Let's look past that!"

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My response to that is also a celebration of Italian heritage. But it's more of a gesture than spoken words...

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This reminds me of the Sopranos episode of the Columbus Day clash.

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The state rep's response says to me, "I'd rather yield to the status quo than to have a difficult conversation with some of my constituents about the changing tide of history." Even if he doesn't personally care, this stink is lazy at best, and racist at worst.

Besides, I fail to see the link between Columbus coming down and the uprising of luxury condos. That happened when we buried the Central Artery, not when we bury whitewashed views of history.

And finally... you can't find ANY other notable Italian? Wouldn't this be a great time for the neighborhood to come together and celebrate someone a little more relevant to the North End? C'mon.

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Every person of Italian ancestry I know thinks that statue should be thrown in the harbor.

Galileo would be a nice choice if someone wants to honor Italian heritage.

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Sacco and Venzetti

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You ought to read up about Sacco and Vanzetti, then make an informed suggestion. Also, check the spelling,

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Why not Menino?

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He's white so he needs to be quiet and listen to his neighbors.
I know he is listening to his neighbors, but whatever...just pipe down.
.

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Yes, Aaron is white.

He's also Jewish.

He represents a traditionally-Italian (but prior, Jewish) neighborhood and a traditionally-Chinese neighborhood.

I'm okay with him talking.

Besmirch people at your peril.

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I'm not telling him to be quiet...Our Mayor said it a few days ago.

Walsh: White residents need to be quiet for a moment and listen to their black neighbors

.

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trumpeting your dumbassery for all to see.

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And a bit hostile.

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and a suck up to special interests which he fears.

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are you so fuckin butthurt? it’s unattractive

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I actually dont care one way or the other about Colombus statues.
They are coming for Paw Patrol
now though.. and they crossed a line with that .
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
.

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...that you're just spewing time-wasting againsty asshattery. Got it.

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I suppose one could look at it that way.
Asshattery......Is that an approved word?
It might offend some, not me, but some.

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Have the neighborhood suggest people and then vote on them (I'm partial to Galileo but there are plenty of other choices) and have the city pay for the replacement statue.

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How about putting up a statue of Mayor Tom Menino in Columbus Park too? Everyone loves Mayor Menino and he was the city's first Italian-American Mayor! This is something we can also be proud of. Even though he was not from the North End, he worked really close by at City Hall. I think this is something that should be considered. I can't imagine anyone defacing his statue!

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Was also partial to Ernestos. Use to see him there back in the 90s. $1 for a quarter of a pizza...

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Not everyone loved Menino.

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He's an Italian-American who participated substantially in the recent history of Boston, unlike Columbus.

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but at least I'm pretty sure he never cut anyone's hands off and then paraded them around in the streets. So he's got that going for him, at least.

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AFAIK, he never enslaved or raped anyone either.

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Name one single prominent figure in American, or Bostonian history that has been universally loved.

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Pedro Martinez

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and Sara Lee

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Papi more than Pedro, but Dwight Evans and Bobby Orr more than either of them.

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He employed the wretched Patricia Malone, a condescending (expletive) who was an enemy to the bar industry.

On top of that, he was more interested in bullying people than in actual civic improvement.
Donald Trump with a speech impediment.

I'd be first in line to piss on that statue.

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Thousands of homeless in Boston. I want them housed before a nickel gets spent on a frickin' statue. Come on. Great Societal Reset of 2020.

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If they built a statue of Alessandro Volta, they could put it over a set of charging stations for laptops and cell phones. Or a statue of Giovanni Marconi would be appropriate with free wifi.

The cost of a single statue wouldn't make a difference to the problem of housing everybody (and I really doubt we could convince them to put the savings towards housing.) So there's a lot to be said for just making a statue of Galileo and putting it in front of something useful like a shelter we could name for GG...like Cambridge has a road named for him.

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Here is an excellent proposal by one of my North End neighbors and fellow Italian American.
https://www.change.org/p/friends-of-christopher-columbus-park-replace-th...

I urge you to sign the petition if you haven't already. Excerpts:

When we reference Columbus or celebrate Columbus Day in America, what we’re really trying to do is pay our respects to the fortitude and sacrifice of our ancestors who came to this country and laid the groundwork for the success that Italian-Americans enjoy today. We are & should be proud of them. So why continue to overshadow them with a symbol that harms our reputation by association?

Meanwhile, right here in our own neighborhood, we have two potent symbols of the Italian American experience: Sacco & Vanzetti. Executed after a controversial trial in a biased criminal justice system amidst a wave of anti-Italian, anti-immigrant sentiment in the early 20th century. Their story resonates now more than ever.

As an Italian American living in the North End, I call on the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park, our neighborhood associations NEWRA & NEWNC, and the leaders of all the Italian American organizations in the North End to gather together to discuss how we can honor our Italian American ancestors in a better way. One that, instead of bringing us shame by association, places us in solidarity with those who are the targets of bias & discrimination today.

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n/t

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A mostly forgotten but still important figure in this countrys struggle for independence. He was a close friend of Jefferson, a diplomat who fought for our Independence and directly contributed to our Declaration.

After his death, his heirs even settled in the area.

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Since statuary has become so divisive, how about just green space.

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Just like the pear in Dorchester, they should replace him with a giant loaf of scali bread.

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A box of Prince pasta.

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Prince left Boston in 1939, and moved to Lowell. People there are still pissed that the company abandoned them in 1997. You can still buy Prince products there, but a lot of people won't.

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With another giant cannolli statue across the street that locals can say is actually the better one

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The sfogliatella around the corner from both of those is the best statue in the area and it's even accessible 24x7.

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"Roll on Sinatra"
"Bruno Sanmartino the Gem of the Oceans"
couple of songs needing new work

Columbia River
Columbus Ohio
Columbia South Carolina
Columbus Avenue in a lot of places
District of Columbia
Columbus Circle in NYC
British Columbia [Vancouver?]
Columbia [Bogota, Cartagena, etc]
Columbia University
all those need new names

Good by Caruso

Got some history to rewrite -- World Colombian Exposition -- obviously never happened -- so none of the 27 million who weren't there can't have seen Tesla/Westinghouse AC lights -- so I guess we have no electricity

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