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Workers arrived under cover of darkness early Friday to remove a Christopher Columbus statue from Chicago’s Grant Park – a week after rioters clashed with city police as they attempted to tear the statue down.
The statue was being removed partly to de-escalate tensions between protesters and police as unrest continues in the nation’s third-largest city, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the decision to remove the statue — as well as another Columbus one in Little Italy earlier Thursday, according to FOX 32 in Chicago.
Videos and still images posted on social media showed the statue draped in a cloth as a crane pulled up to dislodge the statue from a pedestal before driving off.
Where the statue would be stored – and whether it will return anytime soon – wasn’t immediately known.
The statue was removed around 3 a.m. Friday after hours of tense arguments between proponents of its removal and supporters of the statue, FOX 32 reported.
“This statue coming down is because of the effort of Black and Indigenous activists who know the true history of Columbus and what he represents,” neighbor Stefan Cuevas-Caizaguano told the station.
The decision to remove the statue is a reversal for Lightfoot who has said in the past that taking down Columbus monuments erases history, the Tribune reported.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was considering removing a statue of Christopher Columbus from Grant Park as early as Thursday night, reports said.
Last Friday, multiple police officers were injured and several arrests were made during a tense protest in which demonstrators tried to pull down the statue, FOX 32 reported.
Protesters filed at least 20 complaints of police brutality and activist Miracle Boyd said an officer hit her in the face, knocking at least one of her teeth out, according to the Tribune.
Some Italian Americans in the city, who see Columbus as a figure of pride, have reportedly been opposed to the removal of the statue.
“The Italian American community feels betrayed,” Pasquale Gianni of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, said in a statement, according to WLS-TV in Chicago. “The Mayor’s Office is giving into a vocal and destructive minority. This is not how the Democratic process is supposed to work.”
Columbus statues across the country have been targeted by protesters over his treatment of Indigenous people.