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Judge tosses suit over removal of New Haven Columbus statue

Dedicated in 1892, and donated by the nited Italian Societies, this bronze statue of Christopher Columbus holds a globe on his left hand. The inscription on the granite stone pedestral reads: A CRISTOFORO COLOMBO GL'ITALIANI DI NEW HAVEN 1892 The statue was recast in 1955, and in 1992, it received a memorial stone dedicated by the Greater New Haven Columbus Day Committee. The statue is the site of the annual wreath-laying on Columbus Day.
Wally Gobetz
The statue of Christopher Columbus was removed from a New Haven park in 2020 after it was vandalized. American Italian Women for Greater New Haven argued that the statue's removal was discriminatory.

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by an Italian American group that wants New Haven to bring back a Christopher Columbus statue that was removed from a city park in 2020.

American Italian Women for Greater New Haven argued that the statue's removal was discriminatory, reflecting what the group called a "pro-African American/anti-Italian American policy" in the city.

In a decision issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall wrote that the organization hadn't brought forward "any facts to make this conclusory allegation even remotely plausible," and that the group's other legal claims also failed.

The ruling leaves a door open for American Italian Women for Greater New Haven to refile the suit. Attorney Patricia Cofrancesco told the Hartford Courant that the group "will move forward with this" and doesn't want to discuss an ongoing case.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker has called the suit meritless. The city asked the judge to dismiss it.

Many Columbus statues across country were removed amid widespread racial injustice protests that followed the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

The New Haven Parks Commission decided to take down the 1892 statue after it was vandalized. Many residents demanded its removal.

Those who wanted the statue gone condemned the 15th-century Italian explorer as a white supremacist who touched off centuries of European oppression and the decimation of Indigenous peoples. Columbus supporters, meanwhile, called the statue an important symbol of Italian American heritage.

Demonstrators from both sides shouted at, shoved and briefly skirmished with each other when the statue was taken down.

The city has been discussing what to put in the statue's place.

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